It’s been a bad year for the big cats this year so far.
With the death of a six-year-old male tiger in Pipli Poda range in Kumaon district, 380 km northeast of Delhi, the number has gone up to 45 in 2009. The tiger slipped into a pond as the people watched helplessly.
The tiger, considered a good swimmer, was so frail that he was unable to come out of the pond. A few people around were unable to help as the big cat died very fast. “He just slipped into the muddy pond and died,” said Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).
But, it is the cause of the death that has created a bigger controversy. Said Wright: “It appears the tiger in the periphery of the Corbett National Park died of poisoning. Otherwise, the animal could not have been so weak.”
However, Dr Parang Madhukar Dhakati, conservator of Kumaon forest range, blamed territorial fight for his death. “Tiger had injury marks on the shoulder, back and abdomen making it frail to come out from the pond,” he told HT.
“The tiger’s stomach was empty. If he would have been poisoned, we should have found some trace of it in his stomach,” he added.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NCTA) has found that three tiger — in Nagarhole, Corbett and Bindapur tiger reserves - have died because of poisoning in the last one-and-a-half month.
The state forest departments had claimed that these animals have died because of territorial fight. A male tiger does not allow another tiger to live in his area of three to five square km.
Whenever there are two male tigers in this small area, a fight occurs resulting in death of the weaker one.
The NCTA has rushed a team to Kumaon to find the exact cause of tiger death. “We expect an independent report from our team soon,” said Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of NCTA.