Two big cats missing for more than 2 weeks in Mukundra Hills | Jaipur News


JAIPUR: Last two surviving big cats at the Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) are missing for the past 17 days, fuelling the panic that the reserve might once again become tigerless.
Despite, the combing operation, no traces of a male tiger MT-1 and tigress MT-4 could be found in the reserve where country’s third reintroduction programme was launched three years ago. As per the records, the camera trap picture of MT-1, first tiger of Mukundra, was captured on August 18. This tiger was living inside an 80 square kilometre enclosure in Mashalpura, located at the southern end of MHTR.
Similarly, tigress MT-4, which is outside the enclosure and brought from the Ranthambore National Park (RNP) in April 2019, was captured on trap camera a day later on August 19. As tension grips, the forest administration, the chief wildlife warden (CWLW) is also camping at MHTR. Along with the massive foot patrolling, the forest department also used drone to find out the probable location of the big cats. A team of trackers from RNP is also pressed into action. However, the efforts turned futile.
Field director, MHTR, S R Yadav said, “Search operation is continuing. Due to heavy rainfall and thick vegetation, the big cats cannot be captured in the camera, but our employees are hopeful to track them soon as we are finding evidences. On August 29, an injured bull had canine marks was spotted inside the reserve. The villagers also traced the pugmarks of the tigress last week,” he said.
The tiger count which had risen to six in June, including the newborns, is now down to two. If missing tigers are not traced soon, the reintroduction programme will be in jeopardy.
Environmentalists fear, the big cat might not have become the victim of any unidentified virus present in the reserve. The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in its report’s interpretation after the death of tiger MT-3 mentioned that there could be infectious virus.
The report dated July 27, reads, “The animal might have suffered from some infectious (viral?) agent.”
As IVRI, exactly was not able to ascertain the presence of virus it had asked forest department to send pieces of lungs, spleen, brain, intestine and lymph node in sterile tubes on ice for the virologicial investigation in future.
Sources said, “The body of tigress MT-2 was putrefied and samples were not collected. The cub’s virus report is also awaited. There are possibilities of virus which could be threat to the tigers.”
Many officials are optimistic and seeing the silver lining that the tigress is pregnant and hiding at safe location. “Tigress MT-4 mated with the tiger MT-3, before it died. There is a possibility, tiger is hiding at a safe place to give birth,” said the official.

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