ITANAGAR, Dec 15: Two orphaned Royal Bengal tiger cubs were ‘rescued’ on Thursday from a dry water tank in Angrim Valley, a settlement near Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary in Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The cubs were wandering the area without their mother for more than a month, occasionally lifting poultry from local households for survival. A report was filed late November by the local residents.
A team from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) led by Ipra Mekola, member of Arunachal Pradesh State Wildlife Advisory Board reached the area on Dec 6 to assist the Forest Department in tracking the cubs.
“There were four cubs according to the information from the local people. They had been lifting mainly poultry, and had made unsuccessful attempts at larger livestock. One of the cubs was reportedly injured,” said Mekola.
On Dec 11, the team found out that three of the cubs had been trapped in a dry water tank, reported IFAW-WTI biologist Soumya Das Gupta. The villagers had the tank covered with wooden planks and branches to prevent the cubs from escaping till the rescue team arrived.
Two of the cubs were healthy and were successfully sedated and removed from the tank by WTI veterinarians Dr Jahan Ahmed and Dr Nupur Ranjan Buragohain. The third was severely ill when first sighted, and succumbed in the morning.
The cubs are about one year old. The rescued cubs were a male and a female, while the one that passed away was a female. Post-mortem revealed pneumonia, starvation and hypoglycaemic shock as the cause of death. The status of the fourth cub is unknown.
The two rescued cubs will be moved to Roing and kept under observation till they are stabilized. “After discussing with experts and the Forest Department to select a suitable release site a soft release method will be followed. The cubs will be put in a big enclosure in the forest with provisional food which will give them opportunities to hone their hunting skills on live prey and get habituated to the wild before we finally release them,” said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, Regional Head and Principal Veterinarian, WTI- Northeast.
“Dibang valley is a very good tiger habitat and very rich in wildlife. However, no studies have been done on this landscape – on the tiger or any other species. This area has the potential to even be declared a tiger reserve, which is going to benefit the wildlife as well as people here,” said Mekola.
He also thanked the locals who supported the team, particularly the village head Chipi Molo, who had filed the report on behalf of the village. Molo hosted the team at her home through the operation, and helped crowd control during the rescue.
“People here consider tigers equal to humans. We should use this traditional belief to save the tigers here before things change for the worse,” Mekola said.
Meanwhile, Anini Social Forestry Division’s DFO cum Ex-Officio Wildlife Warden, Aduk Paron said that most probably, the tiger cubs might have fallen inside the tank while chasing a deer as, carcass of deer was also found inside the dry water tank. Unfortunately, one of the tiger cubs succumbed to the injuries before the rescue team could arrive. Both the alive ones have been handed over to the DFO, Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary Division, Roing and kept at Mini Zoo, Roing.