The chance discovery of a tiger kill in Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, near here, has prompted wildlife enforcers to intensify their efforts to further insulate the protected area from trespassers, poachers, illegal hooch brewers and ganja cultivators.

Wildlife Warden, Thiruvananthapuram, Jayakumar Sharma said he had seen the rotting and half-eaten carcass of a wild buffalo weighing at least 600 kg near Valliyar while on a trek to survey the endangered Nilgiri Tahr population on Varayattumudi hill in February. All around the carcass were the fresh pugmarks of an adult tiger, which was confirmed recently, he said.

Smitha K. Komath, one of the surveyors who accompanied Sharma, said they were first struck by the stench of rotting flesh while arduously trekking uphill.

Fresh pugmarks

“It was raining. The entire spot was muddied. The pugmarks around the carcass seemed very new. One of our team mates Sandeep Das photographed the kill and the uniquely distinguishable pugmarks around it. We were 30 of us in all. The tiger must have heard our group approach and slunk away. We believe that the predator could not have gone far from its kill and must have been watching us,” she said.

Mr. Sharma said no wildlife enforcer, forest guard, tribal or watcher had reported the sighting of a tiger in the sanctuary so far. Leopards were often sighted. The department has alerted the Kalakkad-Mundathari wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, which was contiguous to Neyyar, of the kill.

Wildlife enforcers said the discovery of the tiger kill was significant as it indicated the possible presence of at least one such top predator in the sanctuary.

Boat patrol

Following the arrest of a person last week on the charge of felling an Indian Kino tree and few acacia saplings inside the sanctuary, wildlife enforcers have deployed three speed boats to patrol the reservoir intensively. The boats are equipped with powerful headlights and have armed guards on board.

Forest foot patrols have been intensified.

The sanctuary hosted a robust population of wild elephants, gaur, sloth bear, wild boar and Nilgiri Langur. Many of these wild animals were vulnerable to poaching.

At least three thousand trekkers annually climbed the 1,890-m high Agasthyarkoodam hill between January and February.