The new year seems to have begun on an unhappy note for the forest department.
In the wee hours of Wednesday, a male tiger measuring 9.4 ft was found dead in Paraspur in Sampoorna Nagar forest range in north Kheri division.
One person has been arrested in this connection and six others involved in the poaching have been identified.
Injury marks and initial investigation revealed that poachers killed the tiger. Bloodstains on the feline's mouth also indicated that he might have been poisoned.
However, the forest officials are not ruling out the possibility of electrocution or strangulation.
The tiger's body has been sent for autopsy to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly.
Forest officials of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) have reached north Kheri to investigate the matter.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) BK Patnaik has constituted a high level committee to investigate the matter. The panel includes Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Lucknow CP Goel and Field Director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Shailesh Prasad.“ The committee will submit its report within 10 days. Stern action will be taken against the culprits as per the Wildlife Act,” Patnaik stated.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) north Kheri KK Singh said, “One person has been arrested. A mobile phone has been recovered from him. It has helped in identifying six others involved in the crime.” They would also be arrested soon, Singh assured.
Apart from the doctors of the IVRI, Bareilly, a three-member panel will also be present during the autopsy of the tiger, including WWF representative Harish Guleria, VP Singh of Lakhimpur Kheri (on behalf of chief wildlife warden) and a local veterinary doctor of Bareilly.
“Following guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) this panel has been constituted. These people will be present during the post mortem examination,” Patnaik stated.
The autopsy report would be available in the next three days and the viscera examination report after 10 days, Patnaik said.
Wildlife experts have expressed their outrage over the killing. Renowned wildlife expert Jaswant Singh Kalair has raised a question mark on the competence of the forest officials.
“ This killing has again exposed the hollow claims of the state forest officials. They have failed once again to protect the most endangered animal of the planet,” Singh stated.
This unfortunate incident had occurred though the year 2010 had been marked as Year of the Tiger, he added.
Singh demanded complete ban on the entry of outsiders in the forest.
India lost 120 tigers in 2009, the highest in the decade.