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Stray tiger in Panna reserve has officials worried

December 20, 2009 17:19 IST

A young male tiger that strayed out of Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh is keeping the wildlife officials on their toes for the past 20 days. Though it has been localised in the forests of the Sagar district, a team of 70 personnel including Wildlife Institute of India experts, forest guards and senior officials from the state forest department are keeping their fingers crossed about its whereabouts now. "

They have put up around 3 km long white cloth on the boundaries of the forest as a deterrent measure and released some animals (as prey) to ensure that the animal remains within the range till it is trapped," MP Chief Wildlife Warden R S Negi told PTI. The personnel are searching for the tiger with antennae to receive signals about its presence from the very high frequency system on the radio-collar around its neck. "Fall in temperature to 12 degrees Celsius during night has made our men's task all the more difficult. Their food and daily needs are being taken care of at the possible extent. We pray that the feline should not enter human habitat or attack anyone," P R Sinha, director of the WII, added.

Officials feel that the animal which is exhibiting strong "homing instinct", could be trying to move to its original home in Pench Tiger Reserve 300 km away, from where it was brought nearly a month ago. "Homing instinct" is the ability of an animal to perceive direction that is beyond the usual human senses and help the lost animal either to return to their home base or trail their owners. 
Sinha echoed similar views saying such homing instinct was common in territorial animals like tiger as was displayed by a translocated male big cat in Sariska sanctuary in initial days, but fortunately it soon formed its territory in the core area.
    
"The Sariska case was advantage as tigers have been restricted to the core areas because of human habitats at its fringes. But Panna tiger has a huge area to roam around with forest patches rich with prey-base, free from human disturbance," the official added. The striped cat has been on the move in and around small forest patches in different districts, including Chattarpur, Kishengarh, Damoh entering Buxah range to forests in Sagar district, 200 km away from Panna tiger reserve. "We are dealing with an animal whose movements can never be predictable," Negi noted.
    
The Panna reserve, spread over 542 sq km, had become devoid of the endangered wild animal and three big cats -- a
male and two females -- were translocated there to revive their population. Two tigresses -- one from Badhavgarh National Park and another from Kanha Tiger Reserve -- had been brought to Panna in March.

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