By Seema Sharma
DEHRADUN: The mutilated, decomposed carcass of a tiger was found in the Nakhtal area of Khatima range of Udham Singh Nagar. The animal's head, skin and paws were missing.
Forest officials, however, denied that the skin and paws of the animal were missing, and said the carcass was found headless. The remains of the wild animal were discovered on Wednesday.
Divisional forest officer Parag Madhukar Dhakate told TOI, "A post-mortem examination was conducted on Thursday. The animal may have died of old age - it was over 10 years old." He had no explanation, however, for the fact that the carcass had decomposed and had been stinking. Patrolling staff had not noticed the carcass for a long time - it was at least 10 days old.
"The spot where the carcass was found deep within a jungle with a thick bamboo grove. It is quite difficult to reach there," Dhakate said.
The forest official did not rule out poaching. "The skull of the tiger is missing. A porcupine may have fed on it, for the calcium. However, the possibility that the animal fell prey to a poacher cannot be ruled out. The area is close to the international border with Nepal, and also to neighbouring UP, and poachers have been known to strike here," Dhakate said, adding that foresters were combing the area for suspicious elements.
More than poachers, however, Dhakate said of late, a large number of wild and protected animals were falling prey to accidents. "A leopard was killed by a speeding vehicle near Tanajkpur, a crocodile came under a vehicle in Sitarganj in the past few months. Of late, poaching incidents have been as good as nil in this region."
Chief conservator of forests Dhananjay Mohan said that from 2001 to 2014, 56 tigers, 507 leopards and 107 elephants died a natural death in the state; 26 tigers, 251 leopards and 15 elephants died in accidents. Seven tigers, 61 leopards and one elephant died after being attacked by poachers.