Tiger carcass in Corbett
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Lucknow, Jan. 12: Officials at Jim Corbett National Park spotted a tiger carcass this morning, the fourth since December, but the reserve’s director ruled out the involvement of poachers as the finger of suspicion pointed to fights over turf.
Officials said the tiger density was the “highest” in the Uttarakhand park, where a recent survey found one every 8sqkm.
Conservationists said a tiger needs at least 150sqkm as prey base for survival, but the park had over 160 tigers in a nearly 1,500sqkm area.
“The tiger density in the Corbett park is around one in every 8sqkm and this figure is the highest in the world,” state chief wildlife warden Srikant Chandola said.
The discovery of the carcass has come days after the World Wide Fund for Nature declared the big cat at the top of a list of 10 most endangered species.
New studies have indicated there may be as few as 3,200 tigers left in the world today, though conservation efforts could hope for a boost with the upcoming Chinese Year of the Tiger starting this February.
Director Ranjan Mishra said the six-year-old feline found dead this morning died a natural death. “Poachers don’t seem to be involved in this death as all the organs of the tiger were found intact,” he said.
On January 6, a four-year-old cub was found dead at the reserve.
According to forest officials, that tiger may have died in a fight with another animal.
“Tourists riding on elephant spotted two tigers running away. After that we found the body of this tiger. It was a male tiger. Its teeth and nails were intact,” Mishra said.
On December 17, the carcass of another tiger was found in the park, the second in the month. “All organs of the tiger were found intact. However, the back portion of the body was eaten by another wild cat. The post-mortem report revealed the dead tiger was a male. Clearly, it was not a case of poaching,” the reserve’s deputy director, C.K. Kavidayal, had said.
Similar deaths were reported in March and August, 2009.
“I don’t know what’s wrong. The spurt in tiger deaths is tragic since the number of tigers is on the decline,” said R.P. Sharma, a former forest official and a tiger conservationist.
A survey by the Delhi-based Wildlife Protection Society of India says between 2005 and 2009, at least 30 tigers have been poisoned to death and 20 died of multiple reasons, including natural causes.
Forest officials were a worried lot. “In 2010, two deaths have already taken place and we don’t know how many more will occur,” said one.