Two tigers die in Tadoba, one may be poached
27 Feb 2009, 0318 hrs IST, Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN
NAGPUR: It is a double blow on the wildlife front. The death of two tigers — one in Bhanuskhindi and another suspected to be in Dewada inside the high-profile Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) — has come as a rude shock to officials, conservationists and wildlife buffs.
According to S H Patil, field director & conservator of forests, TATR, a tigress, around 13-14 years old, was found dead in Bhanuskhindi, a hotspot tiger destination in Tadoba range, by the protection staff on a routine patrolling at 10 am on Thursday.
“Prima facie it looks the tigress died of starvation as its post mortem revealed its stomach was empty. Due to old age, it might not have been able to hunt. The area was closed for tourists and the protection camp is near to the place. Its body parts, skin and nails were intact,” Patil told TOI.
However, death of another tiger in compartment number 163 in Dewada beat inside TATR was not so innocent. Its bones were seized on February 21 and on Monday a tiger skin was recovered from the same spot indicating the tiger was most likely poached. TOI was first to report seizure of suspected tiger bones in Dewada beat on Sunday.
The tiger skin was recovered hidden on a bamboo grove. Patil said skin was triangular in shape, putrefied, and some 85 cm in length and 45 cm in breadth. “We are still investigating the case. Forensic and DNA tests alone will bring out the cause of death. We are sending the samples to Wildlife Institute of India (WWI), Dehradun, and another institute in Bangalore,” he said. The two seizures have opened a can of worms over hunting of a tiger either inside the reserve or close to it. However, it is still a mystery that could be solved only after interrogation of some villagers allegedly involved in the crime.
According sources, on February 20, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), an NGO known for detecting wildlife crime, received a call that tiger bones were lying in compartment 163. Acting on the tip-off, Patil with his staff seized five pieces of bones including pelvic girdle and backbone.