By Neha Shukla
LUCKNOW: The adult tiger found dead in UP's south Kheri region probably fell prey to revenge killing and not poaching. Forest officials suspect the big cat could have poisoned by locals. Its carcass, found floating in the Sharda canal in South Kheri on Monday, was intact and had no injury marks.
"It is a suspected case of poisoning, but the exact cause would be known only after the postmortem report," said DFO, South Kheri, Neeraj Kumar. The viscera sample has been sent to IVRI Bareilly. On the basis of examination of the carcass, experts say the big cat could have died at least 30 hours before its carcass was found.
Since Sharda canal flows through Pilibhit, Kishenpur and Kheri, the dead feline could have emerged from the tiger reserves in Pilibhit or Dudhwa.
Revenge killings are a result of the growing man-animal conflict. When a tiger attacks, kills and partially eats livestock, angry villagers retaliate by spraying poison on the prey. When the tiger returns to eat the prey again, it dies of poisoning. Such cases have been reported in UP since 2008. In most cases carcasses were intact and found near water bodies since the animal rushes for water after being poisoned.
In May 2012, carcass of an adult tiger was found in a water body in Haripur range of Pilibhit. Two days later, another carcass of an adult tiger was recovered from the same range, just 250 metres away from the spot of the first carcass. Both the carcasses were intact with no injury marks. Postmortem confirmed poisoning.
A few days later, decomposed carcass of a four-year-old tiger was recovered from Kishenpur wildlife sanctuary of Dudhwa tiger reserve. The carcass was swollen, infected with maggots and had scratched rump. Locals claimed the tiger was poisoned but forest department said it died due to broken spine.
In August 2012, carcass of a six-year-old tiger was fished out of the Sharda canal in Pilibhit. Forest officers could not ascertain if it was a natural death or a case of poisoning. In November 2013, another tiger carcass was recovered from Pilibhit with no injury marks. Poisoning was not ruled out as cause of death.
Experts recommend compensation to villagers to check revenge killings of big cats. "Adequate compensation to locals whose cattle are killed by tigers is one of the important tools in management of tiger reserve areas aimed at controlling conflict," says programme manager, Wildlife Protection Society of India, Tito Joseph.
UP government has twice raised compensation in past five years for people whose family members or cattle were killed by big cats. In fact, UP awards the highest compensation in such cases, raising doubts whether it indicates growing cases of revenge killings in the state.
What is revenge killing: When a tiger attacks, kills and partially eats livestock, angry villagers retaliate by spraying poison on the prey. When the tiger returns to eat the prey again, it dies of poisoning.