Goa forest department probes tiger death report

April 15th, 2009 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, April 15 (IANS) The state forest department has started a probe into the reported death of a tiger in the forests of Sattari in North Goa, after a photograph of the animal’s carcass was published in newspapers here Tuesday.
Newspaper reports which accompanied the photograph said the photograph was taken with a mobile camera in February. It shows a full grown tiger on its side with a large cut running across the lower end of its midriff, possibly indicating that it was caught in a trap.

Speaking to IANS, chief conservator of forests Shashi Kumar said that the department had initiated a full scale probe into the reported death of the tiger. “Even on a public holiday, we have dispatched a large team of forest rangers to scan the forests of Sattari. If such a death has occurred, it is of immense significance to us,” Kumar said.

While acknowledging that the forest department was on the job, Kumar however raised several red flags over the photograph of the dead tiger.

“There are several issues which are mysterious. If the photo was taken in February, why was it published in the newspapers in April, after two months? We have been trying to get in touch with the person who provided the photo to the media, but we have been unable to track him as yet,” Kumar said.

The forest official however said that the department’s field probe would be able to confirm whether there was actually a tiger death, or the whole incident was a hoax.

“The range forest officers have been instructed to scour all known wild game tracks in the Sattari forest area. If a tiger had died there, there would be some traces still left, in the form of blood, carcass remains, etc, which would help us confirm the incident,” Kumar said.

The 208 sq km Mhadei wildlife sanctuary had reported its first kill by a tiger in the Chorla ghats region in March this year, when a tigress killed a buffalo, some distance from a wildlife resort. After the kill, a team of forest officials led by deputy conservator of forests Devendra Dalai confirmed that the buffalo had been killed by a tiger. “The tiger exists here. This can be made out from the fact that the number of gaurs (Indian bison) remains constant in our forests. Their natural predator is the tiger which means there are gaurs being hunted by the tiger,” the forest official said.

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