A tiger sneaked into the Rhino rehabilitation area in Dudhwa tiger reserve (DTR) on Monday and killed a 34-year female rhino. The partially eaten carcass of “Pavitri” was discovered on Tuesday.
This was the fifth Rhino attacked in 14 months. All the attacks took place in winter. Over November and December 2011 and January 2012, four rhinos were attacked. Two were injured, two died. This was the first attack this winter.
Similar incidents have been reported from Nepal’s Chitwan Park, said Shailesh Prasad, chief conservator of forest and field director of DTR.
“Tigers do attack rhinos, as has been reported from Assam’s Kaziranga Park, but the attacks were on young calves. Attacking adult rhinos is somewhat against the normal hunting pattern,” said Ganesh Bhat, deputy director of DDR.
Dr SP Sinha, an expert on rhinos, felt a shrinking prey base could be a reason for the attacks. But Dudhwa has ample prey base, said Bhat.
“The number of rhino attacks in Dudhwa is high because the rhinos there are kept in an enclosed area,” said PK Sen, former director of Project Tiger. “It provides the tigers with easy prey in winters, when catching other animals in the wild become difficult.”
Tigers attack sub-adult rhinos but not the adult ones because of their size. “Full grown and active rhinos and elephants are able to defend themselves because of their size and strength,” Sen added. “One needs to find out whether this particular rhino was incapacitated, which restricted her ability to defend herself.”
The dead Rhino, Pavitri, was among the five brought from Assam in 1984 to start the rhino rehabilitation project in Dudhwa. At the time, she was six years old. She was named Pavitri as she was brought from Pavitara park.