New Delhi: A young tigress has been put through an X-ray examination in the wild perhaps for the first time in a new initiative to treat animals after the big cat was found struggling to walk.
The tigress was spotted hopping instead of its normal striding motion in Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve by a forest official in March this year, WWF India officials said.
A team, comprising senior veterinarians from Kolkata`s Alipore Zoo, West Bengal Forest Department and National Tiger Conservation Authority members as well as WWF-India staff soon sprung into action.
After capturing the tigress, the officials found that the animal had no external injury.
However, since the team observed that the tigress was in distress while in the sitting position, it went in for pathological tests and an X-ray to determine if the animal had any injury in its leg bones or was suffering from an internal problem.
The West Bengal Forest Department and WWF-India with the help of a Kolkata-based diagnostic clinic used a mobile machine to X-ray the big cat.
Even after the X-ray, the tigress was kept under observation in a special enclosure inside the sanctuary, although no internal abnormality was detected in its pelvis, hip joints or leg bones.
"To enable effective and secure monitoring of the tigress, the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve Directorate with WWF-India`s active support devised a 24x7 monitoring system using CCTV. The surveillance camera system would generate a wealth of information that will help decide whether the animal is capable of going back into the wild," the officials said.
They said the exercise helped them understand the challenges of diagnosing an animal in the forests and was useful in gaining experience for such efforts in the future.
"The exercise enabled us to understand the challenges of diagnosing and treating a wild tiger. This experience will help us in future if similar methods have to be used for other sick wild animals," said Anurag Danda, Head, Climate Change and Adaptation and Sundarbans Programme, WWF-India.
Officials said that they were presently working with the West Bengal Forest Department to observe the recovery process of the tigress which is progressing at a good rate.
Based on it, a decision will soon be taken on releasing it back into the wild.