Hyderabad: One of the most well-known tigers in Telangana state, K4, a young female cat that severely hobbled after it got trapped in a poacher’s wire snare around its abdomen, has been missing.
The tigress, one of the four cubs from the first litter of Phalguna, a tigress that migrated into Asifabad district from Maharashtra, is among the first born in Telangana, after the formation of the state. With no information or trace of K4, it is now feared dead, it is learnt. It has not been seen for around four months, nor any trace of its presence found.
Though the forest department officials say that it may be possible that the presence of a tiger in Eturnagaram forests in the former united Warangal district found a couple of months ago might be that of K4, this theory is far-fetched as K4 had a well-established territory in Chennur forest area in Mancherial district and tigers do not abandon their territories unless there is serious pressure on them, according to tiger conservation experts.
K4’s mother, named Phalguna after the Telugu calendar month when it was first seen in the Kadamba forest area of Asifabad district, is a celebrated tigress in its own right, with a postage stamp with its picture. Phalguna too, had been missing for nearly two years now, and according to sources, it is believed to be dead.
“We have increased the density of camera traps in Eturnagaram forest to try and capture any evidence of the presence of K4. We hope we can find some evidence. In case we cannot find any, then we may have to presume that it may have moved to Maharashtra. Or fear the worst that it is gone,” a senior forest department official told this newspaper.
K4 was caught in a poacher’s wire snare some five years ago but somehow managed to break free from the snare’s anchor. The snare itself had wound tight around its abdomen just ahead of its hind limbs, resulting in a severe constriction of its abdomen as the young tigress grew in size. Despite the handicap, K4 survived and mostly fed on cattle kills. Though the forest department made plans to tranquilise it, and then surgically remove the snare biting into it, the plans were never realised. Over a period of time, K4 had become extremely wary of human presence. “It also learnt to avoid camera traps and became extremely sensitive to human presence,” an official said.
With the recent discoveries of poachers laying live electric wire traps in the forest area that formed part of K4’s territory, it is feared that the tigress may have been killed and its body disposed off by people who laid the electric wires to kill wild animals....