Massive operation to capture K4

A meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority approved committee on Friday met at Mancherial and discussed what needs to be done to immobilize K4 and save the tigress, one of the first born tigers in Telangana State.

By Author  |  Published: 23rd Jun 2018  12:01 amUpdated: 22nd Jun 2018  11:14 pm
K4
File photo of the tigress that has been suffering from a wound around its abdomen from a poacher’s snare.

Hyderabad: At least four veterinarians experienced in handling wildlife emergencies, two portable machans, brand new sets of walkie-talkies, a sharp-shooter from Maharashtra police on deputation at the Tadoba National Park with experience in darting wild animals with a tranquilizer gun, and an additional force of anywhere up to 100 support staff including drivers, forest guards and officials.

These and much more is what is going to take to capture K4, the young tigress in Chennur forest area of Telangana State that has been suffering from a wound that refuses to heal around its abdomen from a poacher’s snare it got stuck in for about a year now.

A meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority approved committee on Friday met at Mancherial and discussed what needs to be done to immobilize K4 and save the tigress, one of the first born tigers in Telangana State. According to A Shankaran, the officer on special duty at the State Forest Department, an action-oriented plan has been prepared and approved at the meeting to track and immobilize K4 and then treat it for its injuries.

“Once it is immobilised, the plans we discussed included taking X-ray images of the wound, a MRI scan of its abdomen, among other steps, to rule out any permanent injury to K4,” he said. Shankaran also said the final treatment plan would have to be approved by the majority of the four vets.

Indications are that the tigress may need at least a week or so of treatment in the minimum

while simultaneous blood tests are run on its overall state of health. The X-rays and MRI scan are expected to establish what, if any, damage was done internally to the animal from the squeeze the snare has put around its abdomen for about a year as it was growing.

Among the decisions taken by the committee were the immediate purchase of two portable machans that can be set up in 20 minutes each which will be used by the vets and the sharp-shooter. “We decided that we will place baits and monitor them and also any kills of wild animals K4 may make. It was also decided that no action will be taken for the first couple of kills to allow K4 to trust and return to its kills to feed. Once we are certain that it is doing so, then at the next kill, we will get our team in place on the machans and try to immobilise the tigress,” he explained.

“The tranquiliser guns are in place. The required drugs are in place. We are also getting about six to eight sets of walkie-talkies for the staff. All the equipment will be ready and available here (Mancherial) in the next three or four days,” Shankaran said.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that another team of a wildlife vet and a forest department sharp-shooter from Madhya Pradesh have volunteered to join the efforts to capture K4. It was also learnt that the animal tracker, Wasif Jamshed, who was asked to join the efforts to track K4 on Union Minister Maneka Gandhi’s recommendations, left Chennur as the department informed him that his assistance was no longer required.

He is learnt to have informed the forest department officials that the terrain in which K4 is moving in was not conducive for proper tracking. After he gave his opinion and left the meeting venue, it was learnt that the committee discussed the plan of action to save K4.

The NTCA committee is headed by the Kawal Tiger Reserve field director, wildlife veterinarians drawn from two States, a representative of Hyticos, the wildlife conservation NGO based out of Hyderabad among others.