Jan 11 14 9:50 AM

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Release of one captive tigress in Pench by Feb

The three-member team set up by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to reintroduce two Pench tigresses in the wild was positive about their release. Three tigers, two females and a male, between 4 and 5 years, are being trained to hunt in captivity in a 4 hectare enclosure in Pench Tiger Reserve. 

These cubs were rescued from Dhaba forest range in Gondpipri in Chandrapur district in September 2009. The team comprising Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientists Bilal Habib and Parag Nigam and NTCA assistant inspector general (AIG) Ravikiran Govekar here visited Pench on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The team is expected to submit a report to NTCA in a week. Sources said after monitoring records and actual behaviour of the animals, the team suggested intensive pre-relase monitoring of one tigress which is doing extremely well. "It was also decided to train the field staff in monitoring and also send them to places where such tigers have been released back in the wild," said sources. 

"The three tigers are already being given live baits as kill. We have also placed orders for two radio-collars, which are expected after testing only in February," said sources. 

After performance of the tigress post-release, release of another one will be taken up. The male tiger is not being considered for release as of now. Earlier, a two-member team of WII consisting of K Ramesh Kumar and Parag Nigam in October 2011 had told TOI that the tigers were good candidates for rehabilitation. 

However, fate of the tigers was mired in bureaucratic red tapism which led to unwarranted delay in release. It was principal secretary (forest) Praveen Pardeshi who continuously took up the matter with the authorities concerned.