Jaipur: Stating that Tiger T-24 alias 'Ustad', which was shifted out after the alleged death of a forest guard in May, was not a "man-eater", wildlife experts have urged Rajasthan Government to relocate the tiger to its habitat in Ranthambore National Park (RNP) at Sawaimadhopur.
The demand was made at a seminar on "Conservation of Tiger" here yesterday evening, organised to mark International Tiger Day. T-24 was shifted to Sajjangarh Zoological Park in Udaipur after the alleged death of forest guard Rampal Mali.
"National Tiger Conservation Authority's (NTCA) team after thorough investigation and interview with forest officers reported that 'Ustad' cannot be described as a man-eater. And such incidents may be chance encounters due to human proximity to the tiger in its defined habitat," said Rupesh Kant Vyas, a wildlife expert.
"The state government should consider NTCA report on T-24, which was living with a tigress and two cubs in RNP," Vyas said at the seminar.
"Through a letter, the Additional DGF (Project Tiger) and Member Secretary (NTCA) Bishan Singh Bonal have also asked the state government's additional chief secretary (forests) to re-wild 'Ustad' to its suitable habitat," Vyas said.
"It was strange that the Chief Wildlife Warden had ordered shifting of T-24 on the report of the Tiger Reserve Authorities (RTA) that have identified T-24 responsible for human attack on May 8, 2015 in which the forest guard was died. More over the RTA had just sent an SMS to NTCA on the whole incident," Vyas said.
The wildlife expert also alleged that 15 big cats were missing from Ranthambore National Park after Tiger T-24 was shifted to Udaipur.
Speaking on the occasion, retired IFS Officer Sunayan Sharma said that after Tiger T-24 was shifted to Udaipur, Tigress T-39 and cub T-72 were reportedly missing from RNP.
The Tiger Project, which began in 1972, had a census of 2,000 tigers in 42 tiger reserves, but now it has declined to 1,600 only, Sharma said, adding the big cat needed to be saved at all costs, and wildlife tourism should be on back seat?
A senior wildlife expert and Cox and King official Madhav Rathore said due to shifting of Tiger T-24, the business in RNP has come down by 24 per cent in recent months.
Former Sawaimadhopur collector S N Singh said there was not a single hotel near RNP in 1960s, but now there were 38 hotels running in the area, and many more would come up.
Noted wildlife writer Falguni Bansal highlighted the historic and religious importance of tiger, saying it was not just symbol of forts and their kings but a very important part of the ecosystem of forest also.