Another incident of the brutal killing of a tiger has come to the fore in the state of Maharashtra. The forest and police department of the Pandharkawada division on Sunday, i.e April 25, found a four-year-old pregnant tigress in the Mukutban forest region.
The matter was kept under wraps for an entire day after which the local agencies got wind of the incident and the news of the death of the tigress finally came out. According to the authorities, unidentified poachers killed the tigress, who was pregnant with four fetuses in her womb. Four days after the incident, the authorities are still clueless about the poachers responsible for the death of the tigress.
The autopsy report of the tigress revealed that the fetuses were 60 days old, and considering the 3-3.5 months pregnancy period of tigers, the tigress would have given birth to cubs in the next month. It was reported that the body of the tigress was found 3 to 4 days after her death. It bore seven injury marks and the poachers had chopped two front paws with an axe.
“It is highly likely that the death of the tigress is the handiwork of some locals engaged in bamboo mats. The tigress was choked to death first by the igniting fire as the pictures show burn bamboo pieces at the cave entrance. She must have tried to come out but the poachers may have blocked the entrances. Later, the poachers must have entered the cave and removed the paws with an axe. Injuries on her body reveal that she was attacked by sharp-edged weapons,” said Subhash Puranik, Pandharkawda DFO (wildlife).
The forest department said they have launched an investigation into the killing of the tigress but so far they have not stumbled upon any clue that could lead to the culprits. “As of now, there are no clues. On Wednesday, the superintendent of police Dilip Patil Bhujbal will himself visit the spot to know about the crime scene. We will soon zero in on the culprits,” said SV Ramarao, the Yavatmal chief conservator of forest (CCF).
This has been the 17th tiger death incident in Maharashtra in the first four months in the year. Out of these 17 deaths, 11 have been due to poaching or under mysterious circumstances not proved yet. The total number of tiger deaths in Maharashtra in this so far is more than the total number of deaths in the year 2020, which was 14.
In the Pandharkawda division itself, this is the third incident of poaching reported in a month. On March 23, another four-year-old tigress had been found ensnared in a wire trap at the Maregaon forest range.
However, the highest number of tiger fatalities have been reported from the Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, where a tigress and her cubs were found dead after a suspected poisoning earlier this year.
The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, which is home to a sizeable Tiger population, has a history of laying wire snares by locals. As per the statistics by the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), 7 tigers and 15 leopards have died due to wire snares in Maharashtra in the last decade.
Wildlife expert Kishor Rithe laments that despite a long history of laying wire snares to kill wild animals in the entire Pandharkawda division, no lessons have been learned by the government.
Wildlife photographer Sarosh Lodhi says that after so many tiger deaths in the state, no accountability has yet been fixed.