Karnataka: 3 held for stealing Prince’s teeth from his carcass at Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Three teeth were recovered from them, which are believed to have been removed from the tiger’s carcass. Officials, however, said the accused had only removed the teeth from the tiger and were not poachers.karnataka Updated: Apr 28, 2017 12:21 IST
Three cattle grazers have been arrested for sawing off the teeth of Prince, the most photographed tiger of Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve, whose carcass was found on April 2.
The accused have been identified as Soma, Bomma, and Siniraja and are residents of villages located on the periphery of the national park, officials said.
Three teeth were recovered from them, which are believed to have been removed from the tiger’s carcass. Officials, however, said the accused had only removed the teeth from the tiger and were not poachers.
“The accused had seen Prince’s carcass in the forest and decided to take his teeth to sell to collectors,” Bandipur director T Heeralal said.
Prince was found dead in the Kundkere range of Bandipur with his snout missing and initial reports from the forest department had suggested that the tiger had died of starvation.
Heeralal said the department stuck with the explanation and the accused had only chopped the snout with a sharp object to steal the teeth.
The tiger’s death was seen as a mystery and the forest department was forced to reopen the investigation after activists alleged that it was a case of poaching.
The department’s explanation for the missing snout had shifted from a crude bomb explosion and the act of scavengers.
The number of tigers dead in 2017 has reached 44 - 30 natural deaths and 14 poached, according to data by Wildlife Protection Society of India.