Avni's cubs spotted

The two cubs of T1, the tigress that was shot dead on November 2 after being declared a problem animal, were sighted after 14 days at Vihirgaon village early on Thursday.

Foresters used the urine of another tigress and Calvin Klein perfume to lure T1. For her cubs, it was the sound of a tigress calling her cubs, which was played on a recorder, that did the trick. These calls were recorded a year ago, and the technique has worked, according to sources.

Sources said the recording was played on a portable speaker every 2 km near Vihirgaon dam by a team from Nagpur. They saw two pairs of eyes glowing in the dark from a distance of about 300 m at 1.30 am on Thursday. At 2 am, a team from Akola, which is also monitoring the cubs, saw them from 150 m at the same spot. Both cubs were caught on camera traps near Anji dam at 7.41 am. “The cubs look healthy and have travelled 7.5 km to Anji from Vihirgaon during the night, which is astonishing,” an official said.

Additional principal chief conservator of forests for wildlife Sunil Limaye confirmed that the cubs were sighted near Vihirgaon and caught on camera. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also confirmed the spotting of the two cubs, and said the forest department would take “appropriate action”. Five days ago, chief wildlife warden AK Misra had confirmed a trail of pugmarks of cubs near Vihirgaon but there was no sighting.

Officials, who were part of the operation, said the cubs moving along the mother’s trail don’t seem to be hungry. They have not consumed meat that was kept as bait at the spot. Misra said that the two cubs would be shifted to an enclosure in Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra after capture, trained to hunt and later released into the wild.

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