Published On: Sun, Jun 2nd, 2013

A haven turns into death trap for tigers



Ramnagar (Uttrakhand): Once considered one of the safest abodes for tiger population, the Corbett National Park is turning into a ‘death trap’ for the big cat. In the past three months, no less than five tigers have been reported dead in mysterious circumstances at the world famous park. The last casualty was reported on May 29.

On March 8, 2013, in Powalgarh area of Kaladungi forest range, a tiger cub was found dead. The second case of unnatural death the animal was reported from Bhadargarhi nala in Dechauri forest range where a tiger and leopard were found dead by the park authorities.The third death was that of a tigress on April 18 near Dabka river in Choi area. On investigation, it turned out to be a case of poaching. Prior to the latest killing, yet another tiger was found dead on May 27 in Dhela forest range of Bijrani area. Bodies of the last two tigers were in a highly decomposed state.

Poachers are becoming more active owing to the fact that there is nothing like patrolling by the forest staff in the park, confided an official. He claimed that the lackadaisical attitude of the park authorities could well be gauged from the fact that when remains of one of the dead tigers was sent for examination to ascertain the cause of death, it was revealed that the remains were of some other animal and not that of a tiger. “Though the official concerned was shunted out for his callous approach from park, the matter was brushed under the carpet so that it doesn’t cause any embarrassment to the department,” confided the official.

He further said that it had become a ritual for the officials to visit the site of casualty and issue a cliché that `cause of death could not be ascertained owing to decomposed nature of the corpse.’ From the site to carry out further scientific investigation to establish the cause of death, again as a ritual, hair and nail samples are collected for DNA and chemical analysis. Subsequently, reports are received from the laboratories and the same are dumped in the files for record, said another official of the park pleading anonymity.

Came into existence before India’s independence in 1936 , the Corbett as the first national park in the Asian subcontinent. It had a virtual natural boundary (covered from three sides by hills) and is situated on the foothills of Kumaon range in the hill state of Uttarakhand. Now since the patrolling is rarely undertaken and the park management is carried out from the confines of the park headquarters at Ramnagar, fate of tigers in the park is in the hands of the Almighty.

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