Tiger fights for its life after falling into surging river in India

Videos shared on social media show big cat fighting against a strong current in the swollen Ghaghra river

A screengrab from a video shows a tiger trying to cross the Ghaghra river near barrage gates, in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state.  Photo: Akash Deep Badhawan
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A tiger has been filmed bravely swimming for safety, after falling into a swollen river in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state.

Videos show the wild cat fighting strong currents in the Ghaghra river at the Girijapuri barrage. The area is near the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.

The tiger — an animal known to be a great swimmer — struggles to stay afloat as it fights against the strong currents.

Locals informed authorities and the forest department launched a rescue operation. More than 20 volunteers were stationed to watch the tiger’s movement and save it from drowning.

Drones were used to monitor the safe passage of the animal and the barrage gates were closed, which stopped it from being washed away further.

The tiger managed to get to safety after six excruciating hours, said forest officer Akash Deep Badhawan, who led one of the patrol teams.

“It was around 11 in the morning when we got a call that a tiger was seen swimming. The tiger was spotted about 220 metres upstream of the barrage. It was trying to cross but because of the huge current it got washed downstream,” Mr Badhawan told The National.

“We immediately asked the barrage authorities to lower the gates, effectively giving us the chance to intervene. We formed four points to keep a check.”

Mr Badhawan said the tiger swam until the current was low and managed to climb out of the river downstream.

“The current was a little slow near the island and the tiger managed to swim 100m from the left flank towards the centre. The depth of the water was waist-deep.”

“Once it found a bit of ground downstream the barrage, it jumped to safety. The monitoring team near the point said it went inside the forest. We have the pug marks [footprints],” he said.

Although it is unclear how the tiger fell into the river, forest officials believe it strayed from Nepal and fell into the river while crossing the barrage.

During monsoons, the river near the sanctuary gets flooded due to excess rain.

The forest department has announced plans to use drones and a GPS-based app to patrol the flood-prone areas of the sanctuary.

Updated: July 23, 2022, 5:37 AM