Tigress missing in Rajaji Tiger Reserve

Tigress missing in Rajaji Tiger Reserve

Dehradun: Mysterious disappearance of a tigress in the Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) has set alarm bells ringing in Uttarakhand as the big cat was last spotted two months ago, and forest officials have found no trace of her even after scanning several hours of footages of hundreds of hi-tech cameras installed in the reserve.

On Monday, the state forest department launched a massive manhunt to find the missing tigress but no breakthrough has been achieved so far. State forest minister, Harak Singh Rawat, said, "I have asked the chief wildlife warden and forest officials to trace the tigress at the earliest. Forest official teams have been deployed to find the tigress."

The mysterious disappearance has put a spotlight on the monitoring system at the reserve. And how serious is the tigress's disappearance can be understood from the fact that it could derail the much-awaited translocation of over five tigers from Corbett park to Rajaji for which all the spadework has been done by the state forest department.

DK Singh, director of Rajaji Tiger Reserve said, "It is a matter of concern that the tigress has not been camera trapped since almost March. Our patrolling team had noticed her pug marks and other signs but for almost two months no pug marks have been sighted."

Several teams of forest officials have been deployed at different locations in Motichur, Kansaro, Ramgarh and Barkot forest ranges to search for the missing tigress but so far no success has been achieved.

For tracking the movement of tigers the RTR has put hundreds of cameras in the reserve but the disappearance of the tigress has raised doubts on the monitoring system and foot patrolling by forest guards. According to the RTR records the missing tigress is over 20 years old and used to stay in the western side where she shared with another tigress. The RTR is divided into two parts —eastern and western regions which are divided by several miles of roads and habitations. As per the last tiger estimation the RTR has 34 tigers — 32 tigers in the eastern region sprawled over 150 sq km and two in western side spreading over 570 sq km.

In order to get a fine balance of tiger population in the reserve, the state forest department had planned to translocate tigers from Corbett Park to the western region of the RTR. "Now unless the tigress is found or the mystery of her disappearance is unravelled, the ambitious project of tiger translocation cannot be started," said a senior forest official, on condition of anonymity.

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