Tigress dead in Yavatmal; toll at 17 in Maharashtra this year
This year, Maharashtra has seen 17 tiger deaths – a surge from just four recorded between January and April 2020 – the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) data revealed.
The latest casualty was reported on the night of April 25 at Mangurla village, which falls under the Mukutban range of the Pandharkawda forest division in Yavatmal district. The victim was a four-year-old tigress, pregnant with four cubs, who had been ensnared in a wire trap. Patrolling forest guards found the animal in a cave adjacent to a nullah, with her paws chopped off, around 10.30pm on Sunday. The carcass was sent for an autopsy on Monday morning, the results of which are awaited.
“The animal got caught in a wire trap and made its way back to her cave, where she probably passed away from the injuries,” said district forest officer Subash Puranik, under whose jurisdiction the area falls.
This year’s tally of tiger deaths is also more than the 14 deaths recorded in the state during all of 2020. At least 11 of the fatalities recorded in the last four months of last year can be attributed to incidents of poaching and suspected poisoning, officials said.
In Pandharkawda forest division itself, this is the third incident of poaching reported in a month. On March 23, the carcass of another four-year-old tigress (T7), had been found ensnared in a wire trap at the Maregaon forest range.
“Just last week, we rescued another tigress from Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary who had been caught in a wire trap. The animal is currently in a cage recovering from injuries and will be released soon,” said Puranik.
The highest number of tiger fatalities this year has been reported from the vicinity of Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, which lies in Nagpur and Bhandara districts, where a tigress and her cub were found dead due to suspected poisoning earlier this year.
Officials, however, emphasised that there is no indication of an organised poaching syndicate in the state.
“Tiger deaths have been mainly due to wire snares used by locals to protect their fields from deer or to catch a wild boar. Sometimes, a tiger may inadvertently get caught as well. This year, we have also lost four tigers due to suspected poisoning, and at least three cubs due to territorial fights. There are also some natural deaths,” said BS Hooda, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF) (wildlife), Nagpur.
Kishor Rite, a member of the state board for wildlife, called the trend worrying.
“Such a steep rise in tiger deaths calls into question the preparedness of teams on the ground. There is a standard operating procedure which needs to be followed in these cases. Maharashtra has made some progress in dealing with organised poaching syndicates that use more effective steel traps. But the use of wire snares by local populations is rampant and needs to be urgently addressed,” said Rite