BHOPAL: T4, the tigress which was known for a path-breaking successful experiment involving breeding of a translocated tigress, raised in captivity, died of an infection caused by its radio-collar at Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Madhya Pradesh. This is apparently first casualty involving a radio-collar. Till date there was no scientific evidence to prove the collar could cause death, say experts. Hand-reared after being rescued at the age of three weeks from Kanha Tiger Reserve, this tigress was released in Panna in 2009 as part of the experiment. While adapting the wild, she had three litters in the last six years. 

"It seems that the radio- collar caused infection around her neck. Rigor mortis had set in around the wounds. This is the second incident of collar related infection. In the first case, we had got prior information and timely action was taken to remove the collar, but this time the wound was spotted only during its autopsy," state's chief wildlife warden Narendra Kumar told TOI. PTR staff had received mortality signal (signal from a constant location) from T4 at 6.45 on Thursday. And on Friday it was found dead near Mandla range, said officials. 

T4's translocation and breeding at Panna altogether had created a new chapter in tiger conservation history. And now its death will open up a new chapter, say experts. T4 was an orphaned tiger cub of just 15 days old along with two other siblings when her mother was killed at Kanha. The park officials picked up litter of the three cubs of this mother and hand reared them with a plan to reintroduce them into the wild. T4 was first among them to be picked up for this task and Panna was selected to experiment this new window of tiger conservation. 

T4 was reintroduced at Panna reserve where it struggled in the initial months. Another tiger T3 helped her to learn hunting in the wild and her re-wilding process. T4 later delivered two cubs in the mid November 2011. In 2009 Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), had slammed a 'wildlife intelligence report' that claimed radio-collaring was the reason for the deaths of around three dozen tigers in Madhya Pradesh's Panna National Park. The said report had said radio-collaring of big cats hampered their natural movement, caused neck infections and were used by poachers to locate tigers. 

"Death of T4 will prove what the wildlife intelligence report had to convey," said a wildlife enthusiast wishing not to be quoted. Then BNHS director Asad Rahmani had told a section of media that radio-collaring of big cats and other animals in the wild has been an efficient method in use for over 40 years.

Source: Times of India (Dated 19 Sep 2014)