A WHITE tiger, Karan, died at the Van Vihar National Park late on Saturday night. The one-and-a-half-year-old tiger was a major attraction, particularly among the children. The tiger was brought here from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivili-Mumbai) under an exchange offer on April 11 this year.
Karan was buried on the Van Vihar premises around 4 pm on Sunday. A large number of senior officers and staff members paid tributes.
The death of Karan has now left four white tigers in the park. The big cat’s death has come as a shock for the Van Vihar staff. “We’ve lost a family member,” remarked a Class IV employee with tears in his eyes.
The employees at the park find it difficult to accept the death of the rare species. Inside his enclosure, Karan used to flirt around with his female counterpart ‘Rashmi’ — the white tigress, who was brought here with him from Mumbai. The only barrier between the two was an iron net, which could not stop them from seeing each other. According to staff members, both shared a ‘special chemistry’ and were comfortable in each other’s company.
According to national park director and forest conservator JS Chouhan, they first came to know about Karan’s illness on October 10, when he stopped eating food. “We got alert and brought it to the squeeze cage. We found that he was suffering from high temperature and was lying low,” said Chouhan. He said the tiger was put on antibiotics and injections were administered. “Vets initially diagnosed some kind of stomach problem and medicines were given, due to which Karan’s condition improved considerably and he was kept under 24-hour observation,” he claimed.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, the director said the tiger started taking his feed again and returned to normal activities.
“Friday 13th was off-day for animals and we don’t feed them. But the next day when we offered the feline the food, he refused it,” said Chouhan.
Karan went back to his enclosure and lied down without making much movement. “He tried to move his upper part but failed to get up,” an eyewitness told. No medicine – nothing could bring Karan back to normalcy and he died.
The State Government on Sunday ordered an inquiry to look into the cause of the death. A team of three medical experts was formed and samples have been collected for examination.
“Post-mortem report will make clear the cause of death,” Chouhan added. According to a veterinary expert, the intestinal infection might be the cause of big cat’s death. “The tiger was unable to pass stool and the attending vets took it as due to animal’s not taking feed – which was not the fact,” the source claimed. The source said probably the feed the tiger had taken earlier putrefied inside the stomach causing ‘fatal infection’.
With tears welled up in his eyes, Singhachalam, the Van Vihar attendant, said, “I was emotionally attached to him as I used to bathe him with my hands. His loss is irreparable and I feel as if I have lost my child.”
The Van Vihar staff, animal lovers and common man are waiting for the post-mortem and the inquiry report.