Poachers killed an adult tigress in the forest of Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) in Uttarakhand, disclosed an official source on Monday evening. The tigress with her three cubs was often captured on cameras fitted by Uttarakhand forest division but she had not been sighted for the past two weeks.
The tigress is said to be almost 54 months old. According to sources, she was captured on camera for the first time in 2014.
“There are clear indications that the poachers from Bawariya community with the help of nomads killed the tigress,” a forest department source told HT, requesting anonymity. He claimed that poachers were trying to sell off the skin of the animal. The big cat’s skin can fetch anything between Rs 30-40 lakh in the international market.
HT had reported on Sunday that the forest department has sounded an alert after finding evidence of the suspected poachers in the forest.
In order to keep track of the tiger family, divisional forest officer of Haridwar and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) fixed cameras for intensive monitoring of the movement of the big cats earlier this year. However, for the past one-and-a-half months, they lost track of the tigress. Interestingly, cubs were regularly seen on the camera and were found injuring cattle and buffaloes in the area.
The officials have admitted that they have not seen the tigress for quiet some time.
“The cubs were camera trapped 10 days ago. But, yes we are not able to track the tigress for some time. We have sealed the entire area. In next three days, we would be in position to comment on tigress,” Srikant Chandola, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) said.
Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife warden told HT, “We do lost track of it, but we cannot establish that the tigress was killed. We have declared high alert in the region and intensive combing is being done to trace the animal.”
RTR was notified as the 48th tiger reserve of the country in April this year. Tigers breed in its eastern part, especially at Chilla range (core area), which is adjoining Shyampur range (buffer area), further attached to Haridwar forest division through Rasiabagad.