Tiger deaths to be investigated
A tiger conservation authority is to investigate the deaths of at least 30 of the big cats that have died in Indian reserves this year.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided that each tiger carcass will be deep-frozen and studied by an independent team to investigate the cause of death.
The special team will include an official from the NTCA, a state vet and a non-governmental tiger expert nominated by the chief wildlife warden of each state.
The authority, constituted by the prime minister in 2005, hopes to bring transparency in the way tiger deaths are dealt with. The team will also treat injured tigers.
Since November last year, at least five tigers have died at world heritage site Kaziranga National Park in Assam and over six in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, with others deaths reported across the country.
R N Mehrotra, chief wildlife warden of Ranthambore National Park, told the Press Association: "Any support will be helpful. States have their constraints. The investigation is a complex issue since you cannot single out any one cause for tiger deaths.
"Definitely there is a lack of personnel, and the lack of funds is another constraint. We cannot exclude the increasing demand for tiger products, poaching and other wildlife crimes."
It was claimed that territorial combats were the cause of the tiger deaths in Kaziranga, but investigation reportedly found that poisoning had caused some deaths too.
NTCA member-secretary Rajesh Gopal said: "A number of reports we received stated tigers died as a result of mutual combat. While tigers can die in combat with each other, it is unusual that so many would have died due to that."
The authority will provide funds for freezing and generator facilities, and will take charge of conducting post-mortem examinations on the tiger carcasses.