A domestic cattle devouring injured male tiger has been captured outside Karnataka's Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR), an official said on Tuesday.
"The tiger was caught inside an agricultural field, 2 km away from the forest boundary. It's a 4-year-old male tiger," T. Balachandra, Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Project Tiger, Bandipur, told IANS.
The cattle-killing big cat had been terrorising the villagers for a month now outside the Kundukere part of the tiger reserve, which falls on the southeastern side of BTR and beside Bandipur.
"The tiger killed and ate 20 domestic cattle. It made its territory outside the forest near a human habitation," said Balachandra.
Kundukere is a critical tiger habitat within the reserve, along with Gundre, N. Begur, Moliyur, Ainur Marigudi, Hediyala, Maddur, GS Betta and Bandipur.
Injured in infighting with other tigers, the big cat's upper right side of the left leg was infested with maggots, and cellulitis was setting in.
"Maggots have formed and pus formation is there. Cellulitis is setting in and gangrene is the next stage if the injury does not heal," the forest official said.
According to Balachandra, the injury has enfeebled the tiger, rendering it hapless to hunt actively and forcing it to depend on domestic cattle for survival.
"This injury has disabled the tiger in its movement. It was not moving briskly. It was only coming in the night and eating the cattle. It was also not in a position to lift the cattle, it didn't have the strength," said the senior Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer.
He said the tiger could have transformed into a man-eater had it not been captured, considering its disability and injury.
After the capture, the forest department has shifted the big cat to Mysuru Koorgally for treatment.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve, an 874 sq km national park, was formed by integrating most of the forest areas of erstwhile Venugopala Wildlife Park established in 1941, and later enlarged to its current state in Chamarajanagar district, about 220 km southwest of Bengaluru.
The tiger reserve lists 28 species of mammals, including Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, common leopard, bonnet macaque, Indian pipistrelle and barking deer, among others.