Nagpur: A tigress with four foetuses was found dead in Umred-Karhandla-Paoni wildlife sanctuary, 70km from here, on Sunday morning. With this, Maharashtra has lost 16 tigers this year, five in the last one month alone. The carcass of the tigress, aged around 3-4 years, was traced in compartment number 1452/1 of Taas beat by forest guard during regular patrolling.
The spot is inside the forest and nearby village is about 3km. Divisional forest officer (DFO) Rahul Gawai, who was on a tour of the park, reached the site immediately. During spot inspection, four foetuses claimed to be around eight-week-old were also found aborted nearby. Two foetuses were female, a male, and gender of one could not be ascertained.
“The carcass of the tigress was dragged about 50 metres inside the thickets. Several signs of territorial fight were visible in nearby stream including blood trails, multiple tracks of pugmark and drag marks, heavily disturbed ground and hair were spread everywhere,” said Pench CCF & field director Ravikiran Govekar.
Post mortem was carried out in the presence of wildlife veterinarians Dr Chetan Patond and Dr Syed Bilal, Dr LA Khan, livestock development officer (LDO) from Nand, Sanjay Karkare & Vasanta Kahalkar, both representatives of NTCA & PCCF (wildlife), respectively. The carcass was found eaten up from left side with rib cage broken. There were puncture marks on ventral neck due to canines and death might have occurred due to asphyxia and bleeding. Considering the post mortem and circumstantial evidence, prima facie it seems internecine fight can be attributed as the cause of death. It may be possible that the tigress must have aborted during the fight with a male tiger.
“We have collected samples and camera traps have been deployed to gather additional information. All minutest details are being gathered to rule out any other possibilities as the cause of death,” said Gawai.
Officials said the carcass was disposed of as per NTCA guidelines. The tigress was captured during the last Phase-IV tiger estimation exercise. She was a new entrant to the sanctuary. This is the 16th tiger death in Maharashtra, including that of the missing tigress Mayuri from Tadoba tourism zone. Maharashtra is second after Madhya Pradesh where 25 tiger deaths have been reported this year.