Hyderabad: In a rather disturbing development, three tigers have been reported missing from the Adilabad forests, leaving officials wondering if they were in serious danger or had reverse migrated to their native forests in Maharashtra.
According to officials, there was no trace of three Royal Bengal tigers — Chaitra, Vaishaka and Phalguna — for the past few days, with little or no hint at all of their whereabouts despite camera traps in the area.
The trio, officials say, had migrated in the last one year to Telangana from Maharashtra. Whether they returned, and why, is what forest officials are trying to decipher. If the reverse migration has indeed happened, lack of prey or increasing human activity in the forests could be the reasons, they feel.
An official pointed out that till June 2015, there was no tiger movement recorded in these areas for almost a decade. “Since then, 14 tigers migrated to areas, including Kumrambheem Asifabad, Mancherial, Nirmal and Adilabad districts,” he said.
On December 4, Jaista, a seven-year-old tiger, was the victim of an electric trap laid by poachers and locals to kill wild boars in the Chennur Reserve Forest. “Poaching and wood smuggling also deter the felines and possibility of these forcing them to retreat cannot be ruled out,” another official said.
To address the depleting prey base, 90 spotted deer were recently released into the wild.
“But many of the deer did not go into the core area due to which the tigers are starving,” he said.
Forest staff said fragmentation of the habitat by road laying and construction of houses in forest areas could also force the cats to retreat. “Several tigers migrated from the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) to Telangana, but perhaps lack of prey and human intervention in their habitat made them return,” the official said.
To track their movements, officials installed 60 camera traps in Kagaznagar and Sirpur Reserve Forests and 175 camera traps in the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR). Officials believe the tigers could have crossed the KTR, Tamsi, the Penganga river and continued to the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and from there to TATR or Kannergaon Proper Sanctuary in Chandrapur of Maharashtra.