The Royal Bengal Tiger that was rescued early morning on March 22 in Thimphu is being observed, according to officials from the Nature Conservation Division (NCD).

The male tiger of about 10 years was first spotted in Kabesa, Thimphu at around 4:30am on March 21.

The tiger, which is at the Wildlife Rescue and Animal Health section in Taba, is being assessed for possibility of canine distemper. “We are suspecting an illness as tigers do not usually come to town areas unless they are ill.”

An official with NCD said that the rapid diagnostic test for rabies and canine distemper proved negative. Blood sample has been sent to Thailand.

“Tigers with canine distemper usually do not fear people,” an NCD official said.

He said the tiger appears to be young and healthy and would be kept at the Wildlife Rescue and Animal Health section in Taba until the test results arrive.

If the tiger is suffering from canine distemper, it will have to be kept under the division’s care. The disease cannot be cured and could spread to other tigers.

NCD urges people to refrain from coming to see the tiger.

“We don’t know what the tiger might be suffering from. There are chances of people contracting the disease,” an official said.

A resident of Taba, Ugyen, said that after the residents encountered the tiger on March 22, they have been harbouring mixed feelings. Some consider the appearance of tiger in the village ominous. “We don’t know what to make of the incident.”

Taba residents yesterday organised a ritual to please the local deity.

Karma Cheki