Tigress rescued after lion-hearted effort

In what could be the first incident in the region, forest officials rescued a full-grown tigress from a 35-foot-deep dry well after an five-hour-long operation on the outskirts of Katlabodi, 40 km from Nagpur near Bazargaon.

The spot known as Bandhara is in the backyard of a resort on Amravati Road. Katlabodi beat falls under Kalmeshwar Range under the Nagpur Forest Division.

Although the area where the tigress was found is a private land owned by Kishore Singh Thakur of Nagpur, it is a beautiful habitat for carnivores and wildlife. Villagers claimed presence of four to five more tigers in the area.

The tigress must have fallen in the open well,which is dry and covered with bushes, on Sunday night while chasing its prey. The fact came to light only around 9 am when shepherds Rahul Bhad and Mukesh Garad of Katlabodi found unusual behaviour among cattle.

“Around 9 am, I heard some noise from the well. I peeped in only to find a big tiger roaring inside. I alerted Rahul and we went to the village to inform forest officials and Kondhali police,” said Garad. On February 3, the tigress had killed Bhad’s buffalo.

Normally, such incidents are common with leopards. When N Rambabu, conservator of forests, Nagpur Division, received a message around 10 am that it was a tiger, he got in touch with Kishore Mishrikotkar and G K Vashisht, both assistant conservators (ACFs) who are also known for handling such tricky and difficult operations.

The officials devised a strategy and asked conservationist Kundan Hate and Amol Khante,who runs an adventure club, to join them. Help from wildlife vets Dr A D Kholkute and Dr Gautam Bhojane was also sought. Necessary equipment and medicines were collected before the teams reached the spot around 12.30 pm. Even before the officials reached the spot, staff from Kondhali police station had arrived to control the mob. One of the policemen had come with his wife to see the tigress. NCP leader Salil Deshmukh too came to the spot with his wife. A platoon of 35 Special Reserve Police Force (SRPF) personnel attached to the Nagpur Territorial Circle was also summoned.

The rescue operation started around 1 pm and lasted till 5.30 pm. The tigress was given water to drink. “It was not an easy task as slightest of the mistake could have harmed the animal. Controlling the mob is also a big challenge,” said Mishrikotkar and Vashisht.

Rambabu denied there was delay on reaching the spot. “While performing such operations,we need to take care of everything like rescue gear, medicines, volunteers and specialised vets,” he said.

The officials formed two teams. One team consisting of Hate, Khante and Gunwanta Kharbade, a forest labourer, went inside the well to place the tigress on a rope net while two teams of foresters stood outside the well to lift the net. A crane was also called on the spot but before its help could be sought, the tigress was pulled out.

The operation was disrupted for some while when the tigress, apparently not fully tranquillised, came to while dangling in midair. Mishrikotkar then again tranquillised the animal after which it was pulled out safely and placed in the cage. Prabhakar Sathe, sarpanch of Katlabodi, said the tigress must be a resident animal as shepherds and villagers had reported about its presence. “There are also cases of cattle kill in the 10 km area from Katlabodi near Shekhapur, Maraksur,Kotwalburdi, Murli and other villages surrounding forests.”

Purshottam Hagwane of Kondhali claimed to have seen the tigress kill his dog last Sunday. He also showed the picture taken from his mobile phone to support his claim. Chandrakant Deshhmukh of Nagpur, who owns a farm near Katlabodi, told TOI that he had alerted the local forest officials about presence of a tiger, but they did not believe him. Even for a dozen officials and over 30 field staff present at the spot, such an incident was rare.

“I’ve never seen such a case in 25 years of my service period,” claimed Prakash Sahare, driver of the vehicle transporting the tigress.

Read more: Tigress rescued after lion-hearted effort – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Tigress-rescued-after-lion-hearted-effort/articleshow/7449797.cms#ixzz1DNXAAHsB

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