India

Elusive Indian tiger finally captured in Uttar Pradesh

The sedated tiger in the Rahmankhera area of Uttar Pradesh
Image caption Officials say that tranquilising the tiger was a complicated and dangerous operation

A tiger in India that ventured too close to human habitation and avoided capture for more than three months has finally been caught in the state of Uttar Pradesh, wildlife officials say.

The animal was caught after a protracted "hide and seek" chase, officials told the BBC.

The tiger was roaming close to human settlements in forestry near the state capital of Lucknow.

Officials say it had "cleverly" avoided repeated efforts to catch it.

Wildlife officials told the BBC that attempts to bait and trap it in the Rahmankhera area on the outskirts of Lucknow did not work.

But it was eventually tranquilised on Wednesday morning after officials successfully lured the animal to strategically located bait and were able to surround it.

"Capturing a free ranging tiger is a mind game, and you need to think like one to beat him at his own game," Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) Vice-Chairman Ashok Kumar told the BBC.

"You need to understand its preferences and plan your efforts in a way so that the tiger doesn't suspect anything fishy.

"This, and obviously an element of luck, makes such an operation extremely unpredictable, and particularly difficult and risky for the people working in the field.

Image caption Wildlife officials finally succeeded in luring the tiger with bait

"But in this case we can talk about absolute success, even though it took several months."

The tiger will now be released into a different area of Uttar Pradesh (UP), away from human encroachment.

It is believed to have originated from the Dudhwa area of UP - about 250km (155 miles) north of the Rahmankhera area.

At the time of its capture it was believed to have been living close to human settlements in four barely-linked forest patches over a wide area, which did not provide it with sufficient food supplies.

"The perseverance and patience [of the team] chasing this tiger has paid off," WTI spokesman Anil Kumar Singh said.

"It was not an easy task. People failed to see the hardships we faced in carrying out this operation. But what matters now is that the tiger is safe, and the people are safe."

India has the largest number of tigers in the wild. But poaching and other threats to the big cats have reduced their numbers to just 1,706, according to a census last year.

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