Experts from the Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) have found “nothing unusual” in the behavior of nine-year-old tiger T-24, also known as ‘Ustad’, that was translocated from Ranthambhore in Rajasthan to Udaipur after a forester was attacked and killed by a male tiger in the National Park. Though it was not clear whether it was T-72 or T-24 that attacked, Ustad was shifted as there were three incidents against him. Since then T-24 has been under observation.
The report, which was prepared by IVRI experts, stated that samples taken from the tiger tested negative for canine distemper virus (CDV) and leptospirosis bacteria, which could have influenced the animal’s mental faculties and behavioural patterns.
“As nothing unusual has been found in T-24’s behaviour, we have recommended in the report to observe his behavioural pattern in captivity. The animal is in a healthy condition and is not suffering from CDV and leptospirosis bacteria,” said a scientist from wildlife centre of IVRI.
CDV affects different systems of the body, including nervous and respiratory system, in animals. It breaks down the immunity system and causes various secondary bacterial infections which leads to death. As this disease damages the brain, it affects their mental abilities. Due to this, the animals may venture out beyond the comfort zones of their natural habitat, enter human settlements and attack humans.
Similarly, the leptospirosis bacteria affects the kidney and liver, inducing jaundice and compromising the functioning of vital organs. The body is unable to neutralize the toxins as the bacteria affects the filtration process of kidneys. The toxins then start accumulating, damaging organs more severely and spreading finally to the brain and spinal cord. The animals get infected, say experts, after coming in contact with urine of rodents, which is the source of this bacteria.
T-24 was taken from the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan and placed in an enclosure at a zoo in Udaipur. Foresters declared it a maneater and claimed that he had killed four people in eight years, including the guard, who was mauled near the entrance to the reserve on May 8 this year. However, wildlife experts say there is no evidence that this big cat was responsible.
Former principal, scientist and wildlife in-charge, IVRI, and former director of Delhi Zoo, Dr B M Arora said, “As the tests of Ustad conducted at IVRI have not proved that he could be a maneater, there is no point in keeping the animal in the zoo. Instead he should be released in the wild but as a precautionary measure, the forest officials should release him in the forest where Ustad can have a 15-20 sq km area for himself. Besides, prey and water should be available in abundance so that the tiger does stray from his territory in search of food.”