'Luka chuppi bahut hui…': Operation reunion fails; forest department shift cubs to Tirupati zoo

They will be released in Nallamalla forests after they grow up

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  10 March 2023 5:32 AM GMT
tiger cubs

Four tiger cubs which were spotted in Pedda Gummadapuram village under Atmakur forest division. 

Nandyal: Unable to locate tigress, forest officials have shifted the four cubs to Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park in Tirupati. On March 6, a villager of Pedda Gummadapuram in the Atmakur division, Nandyal, spotted four female tiger cubs when he was in the agricultural fields to attend a nature call.

Atmakur Divisional Forest Officer Alan Chong Teron and his team rushed to the spot and safely shifted the cubs to Bairlooty Veterinary Care Centre. Vets from Sri Venkateswara Zoo Park took care of the tiger cubs. The cubs were also found to be stable with no health complications.

Tiger cubs fed with minced chicken liver at Bairlooty Veterinary Care Centre.

Four-day-long operation:

Atmakur Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) Project Tiger Monitoring Committee pressed more than 300 personnel to service to locate the tigress. Following all Standard Operating Procedures of the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India, Forest Range Officer Mohhammed Hayyat of Bairlooty and his team laid 45 camera traps at 40-50 locations to trace the movements of the tigress. On the third day of the operation, the teams also found pugmarks of the tigress a km away from where cubs were found. Also, a villager reportedly saw the tiger.

One last attempt was made on Wednesday night when the cubs were left at the spot where they were first found. The teams monitored the situation till the early hours of Thursday. But the mother did not turn up. According to the officials, evidence of the tigress movements was found in one area, and it could have moved to a different part of the forest.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Atmakur DFO Alon Chong Teron said considering all factors, including the well-being of the cubs, the team has decided to shift them to Tirupati Zoo. "Even if we trace the tiger, chances of her accepting the cubs are very slim. There are chances that she might even kill them", said the DFO.

According to forest officials, taking the two-month-old cubs to different locations for many attempts might stress them. While the cubs will be shifted to the Zoo, they will be kept in a separate enclosure with minimum human interference. They will be released in Nallamalla forests most likely after two years.

Tiger project monitoring teams shifting the cubs to Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, Tirupati.

Why rejection?

According to the Tiger Conservators, when wild baby animals are born, they are imprinted with the mother's scent so that she will recognize her offspring. This is one of the reasons why experts advise not to handle wild baby animals as it disrupts the scent imprinted on them at birth. It makes it impossible for them to be reunited with their mothers.

In Atmakur case, the cubs were handled by multiple people. The villagers also took photos. As it has been a few days, there are fewer chances for the mother to recognize it. The mother's behavior is much more crucial, as it might also kill the babies.

Villagers of Pedda Gummadipuram taking photos with the tiger cub.

A threat for the villagers:

Ever since the day the tiger cubs were found, the villagers of Pedda Gummadipuram were under the threat of being attacked by the mother. According to the sources, the villagers fear the tigress entering the village and killing all people for revenge (old folklore). Some villagers also feared that the tiger cubs might become big and retaliate for the trauma caused by separating.

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