Even as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai’s Borivli area got its sixth tiger on Sunday, a three to four-year-old pregnant tigress was found dead at Umred Paoni Karhandla (UPK) wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district. During patrolling, forest officials found four foetuses, around seven to eight weeks old, aborted near the carcass.
At SGNP, forest officials said the 11-month-old tigress was brought to the national park around 7pm on Sunday from Chandrapur after covering a journey of almost 900km between since Friday.
“The cub is healthy. She has been kept at a quarantined cage as per protocol. We will continuously monitor her health and allow her to settle first. Only then will we take a decision on relocating her closer to the rest of our tigers [at the safari area],” G Mallikarjuna, director and conservator of forest, SGNP said, adding, “The team that brought the cub to SGNP did not face any trouble during their long journey.”
SGNP is now home to five female and one male Royal Bengal tigers.
The cub was brought to SGNP after a failed reunion attempt with her mother at Chichpalli range of Chandrapur forest division in June. The forest department carried out a DNA matching study to accurately identify which tigress the cub belonged to but failed in reuniting them.
“All tigresses at SGNP are dominant, and keep clear of the male tiger Sultan. We hope the female cub will help improve the breeding programme of the tiger safari,” said Mallikarjuna.
Meanwhile, the pregnant tigress found dead at Umred was at compartment number 1452/1 of the TAS beat, which was within the forest area, and about 3 km away from a nearby village.
“As per our observations during the post mortem and circumstantial evidences, prima facie, the tigress died due to infighting with another animal, most likely another tiger,” said Ravikiran Govekar, field director, Pench Tiger Reserve, adding, “The body was found dragged to about 50-m inside the forest. Several signs and indications of infighting were found near a stream in the area, including blood trails, multiple tracks of pugmarks, drag marks, and body hair spread in this region.”
He added that the carcass was found eaten up from the left side with the rib cage broken. “There were puncture marks on the ventral neck (due to canines) and the death might have been caused due to asphyxia and bleeding,” he said.
The carcass was disposed of as per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) protocol.
“The adult tigress was reported to have entered the UPK range in March, and thus was a new entrant to the sanctuary. We do not name tigers until they spend at least a year. In this case, it seems territorial dominance led to her death,” said Govekar.
While samples of the carcass were collected for further examination, 25 camera traps across the area where the tigress was found dead will be used to collect additional information.
“As there seems to be another tiger involved, we are monitoring the area to locate the animal to check whether it is injured. Additionally, further medical examination will help us explore and rule out all other possibilities for the tigress’ cause of death,” said Govekar.
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