Mumbai: The SGNP tigress that was never pregnant

Sep 13, 2017, 17:19 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

The claims of tigress Bijlee's pregnancy have turned out to be nothing but hot air. Officials at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), who had proudly announced that Bijlee would give birth to the first litter of cubs the park has seen in nine years, have now been forced to admit that she was never pregnant at all.

Raising questions about the level of expertise at the national park, the officials have admitted that they never conducted any medical check-ups, but merely assumed the tigress had conceived because she had mated five to six times. What's more, the red-faced officials kept this under wraps for an entire month, and have only now revealed the truth after repeated questions from the media and public.

Also read: Mumbai: Baby shower in SGNP as Bijlee is set to become a mommy

Premature excitement
On July 25, mid-day reported on the park authorities' announcement of Bijlee's pregnancy. At the time, Anwar Ahmed, SGNP field director and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) had confirmed: "She has successfully conceived. We are keeping our fingers crossed. She may deliver cubs soon."

But the due date came and went, and there were no cubs. Officials waited till the first week of August, then the second week, until they gave up all hope. They now claim they could not run any medical tests because she was too aggressive. The officials added that CCTV cameras were placed in her enclosure to keep a close watch on her, and the handlers said she had missed her period cycle for two months.

What has surprised wildlife lovers is the fact that senior officials and even expert veterinarians could not figure out that the tigress was not actually pregnant until the entire 96-day gestation period had passed.

Also read: Tigresses Bijlee and Mastani to go on double date at SNGP

'Too aggressive'
The CCF Ahmed did not reply to repeated attempts to contact him for comment, but SGNP veterinary officer Dr Shailesh Pethe said, "The tigress Bijlee was brought from Nagpur at the age of 8 years. The tigress was mated successfully in the last week of April. She is not captive bred, but a rescued tigress from the wild. She was hyper-aggressive and uncooperative. Therefore, conducting ultrasound examination was impossible."

He added, "Also, sedating a potentially pregnant animal is not advised. Considering all this, we decided to wait the full term for the results. As it turns out, even though the tigress mated multiple times, she didn't conceive."

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