Saturday, 15 October 2011 23:40 Sayantanee Choudhury
If the inhabitants of the Asia’s biggest Sal forest, Saranda, and initial evidence are to be believed, then its good news in the offing for wildlife lovers. Contrary to the general perception that big cats never existed in Saranda, there are hints for the first time of a tigress and a couple of cubs living there.
A team of wildlife experts has been rushed to the spot to examine tiger pugmarks found recently in the dense forest cover of Jharkhand. The team will also collect excreta and shed fur samples.
According to Saranda divisional forest officer KK Tiwari, locals spotted few unfamiliar pugmarks and informed the forest officials. “People even claimed to have seen one tigress and two cubs in the forest,” he added. However, the sighting is yet to be verified.
Jharkhand wildlife warden AK Gupta said, “A team of six members — including local wildlife officers and members from Ranchi — have been sent to Saranda to collect samples.”
He added that a large numbers of leopards and hyena inhabited Saranda earlier and that the forests often give conflicting signals on the presence of big cats.
Saranda is considered an unspoilt world, where nature rules supreme. It is the home of the endangered flying lizard. It is famous for its Sal forests and majestic elephants. However, news of tigers in the area then would definitely be good.
“The samples will be sent for forensic examination and results will be available within 10 days. Since there were no evidences of existence big of cats earlier, so we want to get a confirmed report from the forensic laboratory,” Gupta said.
The Singhbhum Elephant Reserve is the only elephant reserve which exists in this forest, with traditional routes taken by the pachyderms. “We are also trying to trace the routes of the tigers, if they are in the forest. No big cats have shown their existence even in neighbhouring Dalma forests either. It is possible that the tiger family has migrated from Odisha or Andhra Pradesh,” said the wildlife warden.
Gupta added, “Of late, tigers are probably trying out new routes. Few of them might have been isolated towards the Saranda forest and are trying to re-establish themselves here.”