MP reserve loses one-year-old tigress to starvation

A one-year-old injured tigress with poor hunting skills died of starvation on Thursday in Madhya Pradesh’s Pench reserve, the 22nd big cat to die in the state this year, triggering concerns from animal rights activists.
Officials said the animal was apparently abandoned by her mother for being weak and had failed to hunt two goats in Kumbhpani Range of the reserve a few days ago.
Officials said the animal was apparently abandoned by her mother for being weak and had failed to hunt two goats in Kumbhpani Range of the reserve a few days ago.
Published on Oct 01, 2016 09:08 AM IST
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Neeraj Santoshi, Bhopal | ByHT Correspondent

A one-year-old injured tigress with poor hunting skills died of starvation on Thursday in Madhya Pradesh’s Pench reserve, the 22nd big cat to die in the state this year, triggering concerns from animal rights activists.

Officials said the animal was apparently abandoned by her mother for being weak and had failed to hunt two goats in Kumbhpani Range of the reserve a few days ago.

“The emaciated carcass of the tigress was spotted by field staff. It had a superficial injury on its neck and two of its teeth were broken. The tigress finally succumbed to starvation as it was unable to hunt,” said DP Tiwari, assistant conservator of forests, Chhindwara.

“It had tried to kill two goats a day earlier but didn’t succeed. Perhaps it broke its two teeth while trying to kill the goats.”

Tenth tiger death in Pench since Jan 1

This is the tenth tiger death in Pench since January 1, worrying experts who are at a loss to explain the trend. Pench is considered one of the best tiger reserves in India.

India recorded the fastest growth in tiger population in the world between 2010 and 2014 but a string of tiger deaths last year – 33 in MP alone – has worried experts.

But Tiwari said the death happened after the cub was separated from its mother or was intentionally abandoned. Cubs usually remain with their mothers for more than two years.

“Tigresses sometimes abandon their weak cubs who have to then fend for themselves. Generally such inexperienced young tigers have poor hunting skills and cannot survive on their own”, he said.

Following a post-mortem, the last rites of the tigress were performed on Friday. “The autopsy also showed that the tigress had not eaten for a long time. Its muscles were wasted and she had very little fat left,” said Tiwari.

Pench has 40 to 45 tigers in the core and 16 in the buffer zone, according to wildlife officials. The reserve is spread over 1,179 sq kms including 411 sq km core and 768 sq kms buffer in Seoni and Chhindwara districts.

Pench-based wildlife conservationist Imran Khan said for various reasons, this year has proved to be disastrous for the tiger population in the state. “Wildlife officials and tiger experts should look into this unprecedented tiger mortality and come up with some measures to check the trend”, he said.

The last tiger death was reported from Pench on July 17. From January to the first week of April, eight tigers from Pench died, following which deaths picked up in Kanha Tiger reserve, where seven big cats died this year.

But from July, tiger mortality has again started in Pench.

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