Two villagers were arrested on Monday for allegedly killing a couple of tiger cubs at Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan on Sunday.
While a three-member panel has started probing the crime at one of India’s largest and most famous national parks, the police suspect Ram Khiladi Gurjar and Mukesh Gurjar killed the cubs by using poisoned goats as bait. The carcasses were found inside the park’s Taledra Khet on the outskirts of the core tiger habitat. Both suspects live nearby.
The cubs and their mother had been frequenting the area for the past three months and had killed village cattle, sources said. This is believed to have angered the villagers, prompting the killing of the cubs.
Official records put the number of tigers left in the park at 39. Wildlife activists blamed park officials’ failure to track the animals’ movement close to human habitat for the crime.
“Park authorities should have tracked the tigers and ensured their safety. Animal-human conflict is a big threat for tigers,” said Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch Foundation, an NGO in Sawai Madhopur district, where the park is located.
Officials should be accessible to villagers and listen to their fears arising out of tiger movement close to human habitat, Khandal said.
Forest Minister Ram Lal Jat has promised to expand the park’s core tiger habitat to accommodate more tigers.