Corbett tiger deaths could be due to poisoning
March 28, 2006
By Gyan Varma, Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Four female Royal Bengal tigresses have died, including two this month, at the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttaranchal, and Project Tiger officials suspect two of them could have been poisoned.
The deaths over the past two months prompted officials to send a special team to the park. Two of the victims were pubs.
'I suspect the two female tiger cubs could have been poisoned by villagers in the area,' Rajesh Gopal, director of Project Tiger, told IANS.
The two cubs were found dead - one on Feb 26 and the other March 7 - at Dhela in the 1,200-sq km national park in the Himalayan foothills.
Gopal, who was part of the Project Tiger and Wildlife Institute of India team that went to study the deaths, said the place where the cubs were found dead lay very close to human habitation.
The probe team felt there was a possibility they had been poisoned.
'The post-mortem report does not clearly state the cause of the death. But the deaths were certainly not due to poaching,' said Gopal. 'There is a 50 percent chance that the cubs died due to poisoning.'
He did not rule out the possibility of the cubs being killed by other big cats as there were a sizeable number of tigers in the area.
The tiger reserve, the oldest in the country, is home to over 140 tigers (2004 census) and 90 leopards besides many other animals and bird species.
Referring to the deaths of the other adult tigresses, on Jan 8 and March 17, he said rumours that a male killed them during mating were not true.
Gopal said that such explanations were difficult to believe.
'Though cases of deaths due to fighting between male and female tigers is not uncommon, in these deaths we did not find any evidence to substantiate the theory that these tigresses had died due to violent mating,' he said.
Gopal added the rumours were due to 'misreporting' by some local dailies.
The Jan 8 tigress' death occurred at Bijrani. A day earlier park officials had observed that the animal was not well.
'The forest officials gave her meat but she refused to eat it. They found her dead the next day,' he said.
The March 17 death was observed on the outskirts of the reserve at Ram Nagar.
According to Gopal, the medical report on the tigresses' death was not available yet.
Copyright Indo-Asian News Service
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