By Anindo Dey
JAIPUR: The vulnerability of the Ranthambhore tiger reserve has been exposed by a state forensic science report on the death of a tigress in December 2012. The report has ascertained that the tiger was killed by poison.
In December 2012, the carcass of an old tigress was found in the Khandar range of Ranthambhore tiger reserve. Officials of the forest department claimed that the situation indicated that another tigress had killed her in a territorial fighting though activists did not rule out the possibilities of it being killed by humans. The carcass was mutilated and maggot-eaten and well beyond recognition.
The carcass was found by the forest guard during morning tracking and was at least 48 hours old. The Khandar area is not known to be any particular tiger's territory and tigers are known to just traverse through this area. But the area adjoining it is a village.
Forest officials had even claimed that the autopsy reports had revealed canine marks on the tiger's neck adding that samples have been taken for forensic tests. None of the vital body parts of the tiger were found. The samples were sent to two different agencies - state forensic lab and Wildlife Insititute of India (WII), Dehradun, forensic lab. The state forensic laboratory has now confirmed that death was due to poisoning while the WII report is still pending.
"Isn't it a sad that a simple chemical analysis report of a tiger death cannot be procured in time from these established agencies? The delay in the analysis report has ruined the case completely. Now after 10 -12 months it is impossible to conduct any investigation on this, or even if we get name of culprits we cannot prove it in court," says conservation biologist Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch.
Khadal, who has shot a letter to this extent to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), says poisoning is a common revenge killing methodology used around the Ranthambhore park. "When the forest department was investigating missing tigress T 17 of Ranthambhore, they found bones of a leopard which was killed by villagers by poisoning as per some reports. Similarly, we found some reports from Kailadevi Sanctuary also of poisoning wildlife," he says.
According to Khandal, in the Khandar area last year, they had stepped on 4-5 dead wild boars thrice due to agriculture pesticides. Death of jackals because of poisoned carcass consumption was also reported. "People these days use strong pesticide to control disease in soybean and other crops, leading to a new trend of causing death to the wildlife. Compensation after such kills must come fast to avoid revenge killings," he says.