The death of two tigresses in two days at the tiger safari here may be routine for the forest and wildlife officials but it has brought the functioning of the safari, especially the supply of meat to the wild animals, under the scanner.
Sources in the safari said no medical procedure was followed to check the quality of buffalo meat supplied from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh daily to feed tigers in the safari.
In the Chhatbir zoo in SAS Nagar district that houses around eight tigers, the quality of the meat supplied to the wild animals is checked by experts in a lab. But in the Ludhiana safari, this is done by the caretaker appointed to look after the animals in the absence of experts.
"Though on paper, guidelines are being followed to show that the meat is being checked, practically it's eyewash. There is no equipment to check the quality of the meat and no expert around," said an insider.
According to the information procured from the district forest department that looks after the safari here, out of the two tigresses, Elaichi that died of infection in kidney on Sunday was being served the same quantity and quality of meat since she showed the symptoms of infection three months ago.
The second tigress, Mohini, who was declared dead on Saturday, the post-mortem says, died of multiple organ failure.
"The contractor that supplied meat to the tigers and other wild animals in the safari has earlier been issued a notice about the poor quality of meat, but no action was initiated," a top official of the forest department told HT.
Even experts from the wildlife care and research centre at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) were called for examining the tigresses when their condition deteriorated, sources said.
"I am nobody to comment on the supply of meat, but definitely, in kidney failure or any other serious ailment, the food part is the most important component," stated head of the wildlife care and research centre at GADVASU, Dr Kirti Dua.
Co-opted member of animal welfare board, Dr Sandeep Jain, also questioned the functioning of the safari in which health and diet facilities to the animals were "below standard".
"It's the saddest day for the tiger safari as both tigresses lost their lives when the country is celebrating the World Wild Life Week from October 2-8. I am sure the management of the safari is not aware of this," he said, demanding the overall change in the management of zoos in Punjab.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) DS Brar denied that no attention was paid to the meat given to the animals. "The meat we supply to them is properly checked," stated the DFO.