Controversy persists over the perplexing demise of the tiger, T-104, which was shifted from Ranthambore to Udaipur on Wednesday. Despite the relocation operation being conducted in the presence of Forest Department experts and high officials, Tiger's death within a mere 12 hours has raised a perplexing question. Of note, the Forest Department had confirmed T-104's well-being just a day before its demise, leaving one to ponder the veracity of organ dissemination news the next day.
The Forest Department had claimed that the tiger was healthy a day before the incident, but the report of multiple organ spread on the next day has raised suspicions of negligence.
As per the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Ajay Chittora, T-104's death could be attributed to multiple organ failure, although the exact cause of its demise is subject to confirmation from a post-mortem examination. The examination is likely to offer a better understanding of the underlying health issues that might have led to the tiger's untimely death, he said.
According to media reports, the reason for Cheeku's death was the overdose of sedation, making him a victim of thermal shock. He was administered four doses of sedation. Questions are being raised over the improper monitoring, post-mortem examination, and haste in shifting.
Chief Conservator of Forest RK Khairva told the media that following the tiger's death, Chief Wildlife Warden, has set up a team to investigate the matter. The investigation report is expected to arrive in 15 days. The incident has raised concerns over the safety and appropriate procedures involved in shifting wildlife.
On account of the predator's death occurring within few hours of transportation, various unanswered questions loom large, and the Forest Department's apparent negligence in administering 19 ml (four doses) of sedation could have caused the fatal thermal shock. The laxity in summoning a tranquilizing expert, haste in shifting, and conducting a post-mortem warrant further inquiry.
Similarly, the covert operation of shifting this majestic animal has raised suspicion: Why was its shifting kept behind closed doors, and why was the information about Tiger's predicament withheld until late evening? Why was the team not assigned for nocturnal monitoring, and why was T-104 given the medication? Supposing the feline's report being submitted after falling ill while being caged for almost three and a half years prompted the doctors to administer medication. Or was there another underlying motive? These ambiguities require detailed clarification.
Experts have posited that the tiger may have been unfit for transportation in the first place, given its predilection and sensitivity to overheating. The overdose of medication and its subsequent impact on the tiger's physiology, coupled with the predicament of transporting the animal in a heated vehicle, further complicates matters. To avoid future fiascos, stringent protocols and prudent measures are mandatory while moving wildlife.
Tiger T-104, also known as Chiku, was discovered dead on Wednesday, the day following its shifting from Ranthambore reserve, after being sedated during the relocation procedure.
T-104, born in 2016 to T-41 (Laila) and T-64 (Akash), is believed to have claimed its first human victim in August 2019, followed by another in the same month.
In another unfortunate event in September 2019, T-104 reportedly claimed another human life, thereby becoming a threat to human life, following which, it was deemed a danger to society and was apprehended by the authorities. Subsequently, T-104 was forested in an enclosure in the Darrah range.
The tiger remained detained until it was shifted to Sajjangarh Biological Park on May 9 where it met its tragic end the following day i.e May 10.
The exact cause behind the unexpected aggression of the young and healthy Tiger T-104 towards humans remains obscure, with the incident raising eyebrows and prompting an investigation. Typically, big cats become man-eaters either in their older age or when injuries make hunting other prey unfeasible.
Ranthambore National Park is believed to have more tigers and tigresses than the area can house, a probable reason why T-104, plagued by overpopulation, struggled to find his niche and roamed restlessly in pursuit of sustenance.
As human-wildlife conflicts continue to rise, there is an urgent need to foster harmony between these disparate populations and provide adequate space for the wild animals to thrive without infringing on the human populace's habitat. Appropriate measures are vital to avert future such tragic encounters.
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