The latest tiger death (on February 20, 2010) in Bandipur national park (Karnataka) is shrouded in mystery. Though the veterinary doctors who did the preliminary tests believe that the tiger wasn't poisoned, a doubt lingers over its actual cause of death. If it had died in natural circumstances, why would one of its paws be removed. Why were the claws yanked out? There are a lot fo questions which the Karnataka forest department would have to answer to convince the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
There is reason to worry that are at least three groups of poachers operating in the vast and porous 992 sqkm tiger reserve. Last August a tigress was found dead in the Gundre range of the park. Two ot its paws had been hacked. The rest of the claws were missing. No arrest has been made in this case as yet.
It is heartening that the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bandipur) has sought his staff and the forest cell to arrest a few suspects. It will be interesting to see if the department could crack this case. The fact remains that there is a 54 per cent shortage of staff in this national park, which according to statistics from the Wildlife Institute of India is home to 80 critically endangered tigers.
STARTLING FACTS THESE:
•Total number of tiger deaths due to poaching with evident pelt recovery – 4
•Tiger deaths due to territorial fight – 5
•Tiger death due to translocation - 1
•Total number of leopard death due to poaching – 7 pelt recovered
Let's hope the death toll doens't increase.