Locals poison 2 tiger cubs in Ranthambore
Anindo Dey, TNN, Mar 8, 2010, 04.29am IST
JAIPUR: Even as India struggles to keep its tigers alive, in a shocking incident, two 17-month-old cubs were found dead, allegedly poisoned by villagers on the outskirts of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve on Sunday.
Forest officials said it could have been revenge by the villagers, upset over the killing of their livestock by tigers. Officials say that such incidents may happen again, as straying of tigers from the over-populated reserve was expected. The tiger population in Ranthambore reserve has now come down to 39, which has capacity for only 30.
With the death of the cubs, the worst fears over the growing tiger population and their shrinking habitat leading to their killings have come true. According to forest officials, the two cubs had strayed from the park about two months back and were seen roaming in its outskirts ever since.
''It's not a case of poaching as the body parts were intact. It appears to be a case of revenge killing,'' said Rajasthan's chief wildlife warden R N Mehrotra. Local MLA Allauddin Azad has called for an inquiry.
Forest officials said they found carcasses of two goats from the place where the dead cubs were found.
''Prima facie it appears that the tigers ate the goats that were set as bait and got poisoned. The tigers had vomited,'' the official said.
''The tigers have been attacking livestock in villages. But on Sunday, they were poisoned by the villagers near the Talawara village, about 15 km from the park, on the banks of the Banas river,'' the official added. Officials recovered their carcasses and conducted a post mortem. The viscera has been sent for forensic test and the bodies have been burnt.
''The two adult cubs were from the same litter of the Chirolee tigress and were roaming on the outskirts. When their bodies were traced they were together. They seemed to have been lying for two days and had developed maggots. However, their mother is within the park limits and is safe,'' the official added.
''Had we relocated some of the tigers to Sariska, we would not have seen this day. We could have relocated five tigers to Sariska by now and there would have been space for these cubs in Ranthambore,'' said Rajpal Singh, former member of the empowered committee.