Big cats from Madhya Pradesh to arrive by road, not air

BHUBANESWAR: The wildlife wing of the forest department has rejected the option of transporting by air three pairs of Royal Bengal Tigers from Madhya Pradesh. The tigers, which will arrive in Satkosia from Kanha, Panna and Bandhavgarh sanctuaries, will be brought via road.

The six tigers will be brought in phases in a ‘carnivore rescue vehicle’. The decision was taken by the government after several rounds of discussion with the forest officials of MP.

The government decided to drop the air transport option on the grounds of feasibility. Forest officials said the helicopter that would have been hired to transport the animals would have had to wait till the tigers were captured and tranquillized.

“It would have been hard to keep the expensive choppers idling. It is easier to deal with truck-like vehicles as we can simply call for them within hours of capturing and darting the animals. No one knows how many hours, or even days, it may take to capture the big cats,” said a forest officer.

“The tigers can be monitored throughout the journey if brought by road,” principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Sandip Tripathi said. The carnivore rescue vehicle will have a medical kit and a cage. “Wildlife personnel and veterinary doctors can sit inside the vehicle as there will be sufficient space for them,” he added.

The forest department were considering the air cargo option to save time in transportation. The translocation process will begin in the third week of June, when the first tiger will be brought here on a trial basis. Once it is settled, the remaining tigers will be brought here.

The forest department has not disclosed the portion of Satkosia’s core where the tigers will be released. “The location will never be disclosed. It will be kept secret as far as possible,” an official had earlier said.

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