Trapped Tigress Is Rescued

The animal recovers, but other tigers may meet a different fate.

On the morning of December 4, a coffee planter in the Indian village of Nidugumba found a tigress caught by the paw in his estate's barbed wire fence.

She had wandered about three quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) from India's Nagarahole National Park into Nidugumba. The park was declared a tiger reserve in 1999 and has 10 to 12 tigers per 62 square miles. (From National Geographic magazine: Can we save the mightiest cat on Earth?)

"Wherever tiger conservation has succeeded and populations produce surpluses, tigers getting snared or cornered in human settlements is not uncommon," said K. Ullas Karanth, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He estimates that 30 to 50 tigers are caught across India in a year, typically in illegal wire snares set by villagers to catch deer or pigs. (Related pictures: Tigers in peril.)

The coffee planter who found the tigress contacted Nagarahole forest staff, and rangers and veterinarians arrived to tranquilize the animal. Her paw was then untangled from the fence, and she was transported to Mysore Zoo for examination and medical treatment. Officials will soon decide if she is strong enough to return to the wild or should remain in a zoo.

Not all big cats are so lucky when they enter areas densely populated by humans. Two days prior to this tiger's rescue, a tiger roaming through villages in Wayanad, Kerala, a state in the southwest of India, was cornered by a local mob and shot dead. Reports state that the tiger's body was paraded before the public.

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