Forest officials on Saturday captured one of the two cubs of tigress Avni, who was shot dead on November 2 in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. A special team from Madhya Pradesh caught the female cub, weighing around 80 kg, at around 3 pm and sent it to Pench Tiger Reserve for rehabilitation, The Indian Express reported.
“The cub was tranquillised after being cornered with the help of four elephants,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) AK Mishra, adding that the team will try to catch the male cub on Sunday. “She was later revived and has been sent to Pench Tiger Reserve as per the rehabilitation plan.”
“We had readied the enclosure in Pench with refurbishment and strengthening of joints,” said Mishra. “The cubs will be trained in re-wilding in the enclosure.”
Six-year-old Avni – the mother of two one-year-old cubs – had allegedly claimed at least 13 lives in Ralegaon forest since June 2016. Asgar Ali, son of famous sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali, killed her during a hunt operation by the forest department.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Sunil Limaye told DNA that since December 19, the team had been moving on elephants in order to get closer to the cubs. “During our patrol on Saturday afternoon, we spotted the female cub from a distance and the veterinarian darted her successfully,” he said, adding that the forest department used camera traps to regularly track their movements.
The department also restricted the cubs to a smaller area to better trap them, using chain-link fencing to turn it into a temporary enclosure.
“We had to create a smaller enclosure within the 80-hectare chain-link fence since the area was too large to track the cubs,” Limaye earlier said. “It was a challenge to quickly fix the compartmental chain-link fence when the two large cubs were moving inside. But we managed to do that in a race against time.”
Limaye said the team would follow the procedure laid down by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and set up a committee to decide on future of the cubs. “Till then they will remain in the Pench enclosure,” he said.