The state Forest department has not been getting any signal regarding the movement of the male Royal Bengal Tiger that was radio collared on December 27 last year.
Sources in the Forest department said that the last time a satellite signal received was from Talpatti in the Bangladesh part of Sunderbans forest on May 11, but since then the tiger had remained untraced. For the first two months the tiger remained in close vicinity to the Harikhali beat in Basirhat range in Sunderbans and did not venture out of the forest to human territory. Then it travelled for nearly 100 km to Talpatti in Bagladesh and from March middle onwards its movement was perceived in the Bangladesh part of Sunderbans.
Based on its movement the Forest department has assumed that the collar may have developed some technical problem and have malfunctioned. The tiger had swam a number of times through the sultry water during its travel and the possibility of the collar falling inside the water cannot be ruled out. “If the signal of the tiger would have been received from a fixed place for some days then the possibility of its death would have come but under the present circumstances this possibility can be ruled out,” a senior official of the Forest department said.
The tiger was radio collared to keep an eye on the movement of the big cat and mitigate human tiger conflict. There were reports of attack on fishermen there in Basirhat range and some deaths were also reported in November- December.
“The radio collar gives satellite signal and helps us to ascertain the exact location in the forest where he spends most of the time, its pattern of movement, the maximum distance that it can travel and whether it moves close to human habitat or avoids it,” Vinod Kumar Yadav, state Chief Wildlife Warden said. The process of capturing the tiger by tranquilising it , examining its health conditions, fitting the radio collar and releasing it in the forest was done in two days.
The radio collar was procured from the US and weighed around 1100 gm.