The Madhya Pradesh forest department has started an investigation into the shooting of a tiger in Betul district which left it battling for life with partial paralysis.
The department had earlier claimed that the tiger had fallen off from a height and broken its spine which paralysed its hind legs. The tiger which was shifted to Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal on Saturday is still critical and is being fed intravenously.
The three-year-old male tiger was found injured and immobile on Friday in Betul’s Rathipur area, about 155 km from Bhopal. After local villagers informed forest officials, the tiger was rescued by a team from Satpura tiger reserve and shifted on Saturday to Van Vihar which has a well-equipped wildlife rescue centre. An x-ray revealed a bullet in its abdomen which was surgically removed on Monday.
Sameeta Rajora, director Van Vihar National Park told HT that the tiger was not eating and his wounds were not healing properly, when it was brought to Bhopal.
“So we decided to conduct its full body x-ray to see what was wrong. After X-ray, we found a 1.2 cm bullet, probably fired from some old country-made rifle, which our veterinarians took out after surgery. After examining it, it became clear that the bullet had first hit its left thigh and then entered its abdominal area,” she said.
Rajoura said on the instructions of the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), the bullet will be handed over to the Special Task Force (STF) of the forest department that looks into wildlife crime.
“They will further investigate the matter to decide which weapon was used to fire the bullet,” she said.
She hoped that the tiger would recover soon. “Had the tiger been a little more aged, it is unlikely it would have survived such an ordeal. We are trying our best to save this beautiful big cat”, she said
Meanwhile Sanjeev Jha, divisional forest officer (DFO) Betul told HT that the area where the tiger was shot is dominated by tribals who have old licensed weapons. He said they keep shooting wild boars and other herbivores for meat.
“We have started questioning some people in Kumhartek area and soon we will track down the people who have shot the tiger. We have also asked the district administration to provide us the list of the people who have licenced weapons in the area”, he said.