A fierce roar was Karthika’s way of expressing displeasure over the way her colleague Manikandan was garnering all attention. The 12-year-old tigress, however, calmed down as she was ushered in before her nine-year-old friend. It was the first train ride for the two big cats from the Thiruvananthapuram zoo and Karthika was all excited on Friday morning. So were passengers and others at the railway station in the Kerala capital.
After all, it is not every day that one gets to see tigers outside a zoo or a forest. The two were being transported to Dimapur in Nagaland in exchange for a Himalayan bear.
First train travel for tigers
Ensconced in their special coaches on the KanyakumariDibrugarh Vivek Express, the two reached their destination, about 3,800km away, on Sunday. Discounting the other fauna that usually exists on trains, these tigers are probably the first wild animals ever to travel on an Indian train on a confirmed ticket.
To ensure that the tigers, which are sensitive to heat, remain comfortable through the trip, water sprinklers have been provided inside the coach, he added. Railway Protection Force personnel were providing security for the special passengers, he added. Transporting the animals by train is easier than taking them by road as it takes 10 days and costs more.