Tigress dies of injuries after fight with bison in Jharkhand’s Palamau reserve

Hindustan Times, Ranchi | By
Feb 16, 2020 04:52 PM IST

The death of the tigress gives rise to the debate on the presence of tigers in the Palamau Tiger Reserve once again after a 2018 report said there were no big cats in the reserve.

An elderly tigress succumbed to her injuries following a fight with a bison inside Jharkhand’s lone reserve for big cats, the Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR), officials said on Sunday.

This image of the dead tigress has sparked debates regarding how Jharkhand has failed to carry out tiger surveys in Palamau reserve.(HT photos/ S Dey)
This image of the dead tigress has sparked debates regarding how Jharkhand has failed to carry out tiger surveys in Palamau reserve.(HT photos/ S Dey)

The reserve’s field director YK Das said the tigress died around 6pm on Saturday and her body was recovered around 7pm in Betla area.

“Injury marks and swelling were found on the back of the tigress in the post-mortem report. It seems the bison had lifted her up and slammed her to the ground. Since she had become old, she succumbed to her injury,” Das said.

“The tigress lived her full life. The average age of tigress in the wild is around 15 years, the tigress’ age was 16 plus. She had lost her teeth and her nails were worn out due to old age,” he added.

The tigress had been spotted on trap cameras during the past four months in the reserve. Experts said she could have migrated from Chhattisgarh.

However, Das said the tigress was a resident of the reserve.

“This is why, she chose PTR to spend her final days, as here environment is conducive for tigers and there is adequate food for them,” he said.

Experts said the news of the tigress’ death proved that big cats are present in the reserve.

Jharkhand wildlife board member DS Srivastava claimed tigers are there in the reserve and requires a proper survey to find them out.

“Tiger estimation is not carried out properly in Jharkhand. The survey is conducted hardly in 40% area of reserve. Rest of the areas are unexplored due to Maoist fear,” he said.

The All India Tiger Estimation (AITE) 2018 report, which was released last year, had not recorded a single tiger in the reserve, spread over 1129.93 square kilometres including 414.8sqkm of core area and 715.85sqkm of buffer area.

Rising biotic pressure, dwindling prey base, increasing human interference, and increasing encounters between Maoist rebels and security forces were stated to be some of the reasons for tigers moving out of the Jharkhand reserve.

AITE had suggested that the reintroduction of tigers in the Palamau reserve would require prey augmentation along with restoration of law and order situation.

“For tiger reintroduction or supplementation in Palamau and Simlipal, tigers need to be sourced from the closes source in the same genetic cluster,” it had said.

Palamau was declared a protected forest reserve in 1973 when Project Tiger was launched, a year after it had recorded 22 tigers, according to the book ‘Main Bagh Hoon’ written by former principal chief conservator of forests in Jharkhand, Pradeep Kumar, in 2016.

The reserve recorded its highest tiger population in 1995 with 71 big cats but since then their population has been dwindling. It has come down to 10 in 2010 and three in 2014, according to the book.

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    Sanjoy Dey is principal correspondent in Jharkhand and writes on government, urban development, forest and environment, tourism, rural development and agriculture. He likes to write human interest stories.

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