Another tiger dies in Maharashtra, 28 since January this year
A full-grown tiger died of suspected electrocution in the vicinity of Khandal village under the neighbouring Bhandara forest division in the Tumsar forest range on Wednesday evening
As many as 28 tigers were either found dead or were victims of poaching in Maharashtra since January this year. The latest fatality was reported on Wednesday due to suspected electrocution.
With the recent death, the toll has risen to 28 in the state, the highest in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 27 deaths during the same period.
A full-grown tiger died of suspected electrocution in the vicinity of Khandal village under the neighbouring Bhandara forest division in the Tumsar forest range on Wednesday evening.
The decomposed carcass of the tiger was found concealed amidst the foliage of a paddy field, indicating a deliberate attempt to conceal the tragic incident. The farmer of the land was taken into custody in connection with the incident.
It was alleged that an organised poachers’ gang is very active in the area, and among the recent tiger deaths, a few of them were the victims of poachers.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, with the help of a team of Gadchiroli forest circle, also recently busted a poachers’ gang. Last month, the SIT arrested the key member of the inter-state tiger poaching racket.
The arrested person, an 81-year-old ex-field officer of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), identified as Mishram Jhakad, was suspected to have close links with the poachers’ syndicate.
Jhakad was arrested along with a cash of Rs.14.80 lakh in July this year, officials familiar with the matter said. Interrogation revealed that Jhakad controlled and dictated the poaching and illegal trade of tiger body parts.
Jhakad not only sponsored the illegal trade syndicate but also had been extorting money from poachers and smugglers by blackmailing them, informed Jitendra Ramgaonkar, the field director of Tadoba Tiger Project.
The recent tiger death near Tumsar, though, was not an act of poachers, but sometimes villagers also kill big cats in connivance with the poachers, said officials.
Veterinary experts have estimated the carcass to be around eight days old, owing to its advanced state of decomposition. Although the tiger’s body remained largely intact, the degree of decomposition prevented the extraction of viable samples for further investigation, said the range forest officer of Tumsar, CG Rahangdale.
The number of tigers in India has increased from 2,967 in 2018 to 3,682 in 2022, an annual rise of six per cent. And of them, 444 big cats are in Maharashtra, the third highest population in the country. The neighbouring Madhya Pradesh has the highest tiger population of 785, followed by 563 in Karnataka.