Mystery shrouds tiger death in Dudhwa national park


Lucknow : Mystery shrouds the death of a tiger whose carcass was discovered Tuesday in the thick of Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa tiger reserve, which is India’s second largest after the world famous Corbett National Park.

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State wildlife officials claim that the tiger had met its end by drowning in the Sotiya canal, a tributary of the Suheli river while wading through it. But the local villagers attribute the death to a fierce battle between the animal and a crocodile.

In a completely divergent view, some wildlife experts in the region have opined that the tiger died of poisoning.

This is the third tiger death in Dudhwa since February last.

The post-mortem report was anxiously awaited from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), where the carcass was sent on Tuesday itself. Sources in IVRI confirmed a fracture on the tiger’s skull, which is an indication of a conflict with another animal.

The claims and counter-claims notwithstanding, the body of the animal was found in a highly decomposed condition. There was no disputing that the tiger’s death had occurred about 10-15 days ago.

The official theory of “drowning” is not accepted by anyone. Even district forest officer K.K. Singh admitted that the Dudhwa tigers were “good swimmers.”

However, park director Uma Shankar Singh sought to recall the spurt of tiger deaths in Dudhwa in the mid-eighties when drowning was eventually confirmed as the cause of death. But, according to official records, even in that case, poisoning preceded drowning.

The then Dudhwa director, G.C. Misra, told IANS: “Local villagers were found sprinkling some poisonous chemical on the kill left behind by the tiger.”

“When the animal would return to the feed the next day, the poison would not only induce semi-consciousness but also acute thirst that would force it to rush to the Suheli river, where he would drown in the rapids,” he said.

Dudhwa recorded a tiger population of 106 as per the official census undertaken last year. Wildlife experts, however, see it as an “over-estimation”.