Camera traps had already identified MB2, a sub-adult tiger aged a little over three years, as the first potential target, after it emerged that it had a kill and was not likely to move from the area.
This is part of an ambitious project conceived by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, that involves shifting six tigers (three pairs) from different reserves in the central state to the eastern state.
Camera traps had already identified MB2, a sub-adult tiger aged a little over three years, as the first potential target, after it emerged that it had a kill and was not likely to move from the area. On Wednesday afternoon, MP to Odisha: first inter-state tiger relocation it was tranquilised by wildlife veterinarians from Pench and Kanha. It took two darts to immobile the big cat. Elephant-mounted staff then poked the tiger to check for any signs of activity. When it did not move, it was blindfolded and taken on a special stretcher. The team then measured all parameters, from its temperature to its canines, neck girth and length. The tiger was collared and later shifted to a cage.
While the cage was loaded on to a truck, three other vehicles with doctors and experts accompanied MB2 during the 680-km journey, which took about 22 hours. The tiger was finally released in Satkosia around 1.30 pm on Thursday.
“The operation was first planned for Thursday but was preponed by a day as the conditions were favourable,’’ said Dr Sanjay Shukla, Chief Conservator of Forests and Kanha park director.
While the intra-state tiger relocation experiment has been hugely successful in Madhya Pradesh — the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR), where tiger sightings stopped in 2009, now has over 30 tigers — this is the first such case of inter-state relocation.
Confirming this, Madhya Pradesh Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shazbaz Ahmed said this was the first time that a tiger had been relocated from one state to another for being released into the wild.
Wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright also said this was the first such inter-state relocation, adding that the experiment “is a viable idea as long as they don’t shift breeding animals’’. “Satkosia is a lovely tiger habitat. I hope they will take every measure to keep the tigers safe,’’ she said.
While a lot will depend on how MB2 adapts to its new home, which has a good prey base, the next relocation, of a tigress, is likely to be undertaken only after monsoon. Kanha has about 105-107 tigers. The other pairs are likely to be be sent from Bandhavgarh and Pench.
Meanwhile Madhya Pradesh is still waiting for lions from Gujarat. A project to find an alternate home for the Asiatic lion outside the western state was conceived nearly three decades ago. A new site has been created in Palpur Kuno in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh, but Gujarat has not parted with the lions. In 2013, the Supreme Court had asked Gujarat to share the lions.