COIMBATORE: For the first time, a picture of a tiger on the prowl in jungles near Coimbatore has been captured on camera set up by the forest department. The first-ever visual evidence of the presence of the big cat in the Sirumugai range of Coimbatore forest division was released by the forest department on Monday.
"We had set up a camera trap in Sirumugai. And, for the first time, the camera caught the picture of a tiger last week," the Coimbatore divisional forest officer (DFO), V Thirunavukkarasu said.
Till now, only pug marks have been spotted in a few areas of the 694 sq km forests girdling Coimbatore. However, on April 17, the camera trap (a camera hidden inside a box and fixed on to a wooden post) captured a tiger lurking behind a tree in an open tract of land in Sirumugai.
The wild life census carried out in Coimbatore forests in March revealed the presence of tigers in Mettupalayam, Karamadai and Sirumugai ranges of Coimbatore forest division. Pug marks of seven tigers were spotted in Coimbatore division. "Three pug marks of tigers were spotted in Sirumugai and two each in Mettupalayam and Karamadai," the DFO said.
Buoyed by pug marks, the forest department set up a camera trap in Sirumugai to ascertain the presence of tigers. Within a week of placing the camera, a tiger was spotted in Sirumugai, adjoining the Bhavani Sagar jungles of the Sathyamangalam forest division.
"It could be a spill-over population of tigers from the Bhavani Sagar range," he said.
Spread over 69,000 hectares of tropical forests, the Coimbatore forest division straddles known tiger habitats of Sathyamangalam and Nilgiris forests in the north and north west. With the tropical vegetation of Coimbatore offering a prey base of spotted deer, mouse deer, sambar and black buck, tigers from the adjoining Sathyamangalam and Nilgiris forests are now stalking Coimbatore jungles.
In Sirumugai, spread over 11,000 hectares, the vegetation is not dense and deers are plenty. Perhaps, that explains why the tiger has been spotted there. Next, the forest department plans to set up a camera trap in the Mettupalayam range.