Tiger and dhole spotted near Ooty town; researchers say it’s an encouraging sign

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The sighting of an adult tiger near Udhagamandalam town could be a further indicator of an increase in the population of the species in the upper Nilgiris, say researchers.

Recently, a video of a tiger just outside Udhagamandalam town, competing for prey with a pack of dhole surfaced on mobile messaging applications.

K.Saravanakumar, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Nilgiris division), said that there had been no reported incidents of the animal having problematic interactions with people in the area.

“There have been no reported instances of cattle being lifted by the tiger. We think that the most recent incident of a head of cattle being preyed on is due to a pack of dhole, or Asiatic wild dog, which also inhabit the area. With the latest record, the Forest Department believes that there are two tigers using the forests bordering Udhagamandalam town,” he added.

R. Sanil, Associate Professor at the Microbiology Lab at the Government Arts College in Udhagamandalam, who co-authored a paper ‘Factors influencing survival of tiger and leopard in high-altitude ecosystem of the Nilgiris’, said he estimated that there were more than 40 tigers inhabiting the upper Nilgiris.

“The fact that there are increasing number of sightings of dhole, leopards and tigers in these Shola forests, and very few reported incidents of problematic interactions with people could indicate the presence of a good prey base for the predators,” said Mr. Sanil, who added that an in-depth study should be conducted to ascertain whether tigers and other large predators were using these forests to move between different habitats or were inhabiting them throughout the year.

“Our analysis of scat samples of leopards has also revealed that there is adequate prey for predators bordering human settlements,” added Mr. Sanil.

The Forest Department has set up camera traps in the location where the tiger was spotted. They said that the age and sex of the animal, as well as other indicators of health could only be identified once the animal was recorded in these camera traps.

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