In Corbett, tiger & elephant deaths remain whodunits
Lalit Kumar, TNN, 30 January 2010, 03:48am ISTText
CORBETT TIGER RESERVE (RAMGAGAR): The Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) authorities have made no serious attempt to find out the causes for the deaths of 13 tigers, six leopards and 17 elephants that perished in the Corbett landscape in the last three years.
Four of the tigers were found dead in CTR in less than two months, since December 13 last. The carcass of yet another leopard was found in the Ramgagar forest division, bordering the CTR, early on Wednesday morning.
Yet, no autopsy has been carried out on the dead leopard till this report was filed, late Friday evening. CTR director R K Mishra said, "We are not responsible for anything in the neighbouring forest divisions."
He could not comment on the possibility of the cats that died in forest divisions neighboring the CTR having strayed from the reserve.
Mishra did say that the Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute, to which viscera of all 33 dead animals have been sent for forensic examination, "has not sent reports of a single viscera examination, despite reminders". He said, "Now, we will send a team to IVRI to make inquiries."
CTR warden, Umesh Chand Tiwari, however, said that two reports had been received. "Reports of two viscera had arrived. One said the concerned tiger did not die of any disease while the other said the viscera was not fit for examination."
The problem, according to a senior official of the Central government-run IVRI, is not that the reports are not being delivered. "We have sent to CTR reports of all the viscera sent to us. These have been sent either by registered post or by hand," he said. But the nub was that the viscera were too decomposed for any meaningful examination.
"The trouble is that they have sent us only viscera that are too decomposed or otherwise unfit for examination. We have repeatedly been advising Corbett that we can train their officials on how to collect and preserve viscera. But, they have never bothered to respond," said the IVRI official.
"While Uttar Pradesh forest divisions send us entire carcasses of wild animals, Corbett has not bothered to do so," IVRI sources said.
D Swarup, head of the veterinary medicine division at IVRI, said, "If the CTR were serious, they would have formed a panel, including government and private facilities and NGOs, to carry out the autopsies and viscera tests."
Swarup said IVRI also often carried out examinations in the presence of NGO representatives. CTR warden Tiwari, however, did not respond to these statements.