Second such incident near Nagarahole National Park

The tigress, which was found dead close to Metikuppe near H.D. Kote on the fringes of Nagarahole National Park on Sunday, was poisoned, says the post-mortem report.

As it is the second such case in the vicinity of the national park, this incident has sent shock waves among conservationists and Forest Department staff, who are at their wits end to tackle the alarming trend. The carcass of the tiger found near D.B. Kuppe in January too had traces of poison.

Bhaskar Rao, Inspector-General of Police, forest cell, said the incident could not be treated as a forest offence but a criminal offence. He told The Hindu: “We will have to invoke the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Code for Criminal Procedure and go to the roots of the case to identify and book the offenders.”

An official from the Forest Department said the post-mortem report indicated that the prima facie cause of the tigress’ death was poisoning. “The tigress — about eight-years-old — had eaten the carcass of a cattle and collapsed within 150 meters of the kill. There were strong indications of presence of metacid, a chemical. A close inspection of the site indicated that soon after eating the carcass, the tiger dragged and hurled itself forward from the site towards the jungles in a desperate bid to overcome nausea and trauma and vomited all along. A few crows too were found dead in the area and we have collected samples and sent them for tests,” the official said.

Thorough probe

Describing the development as alarming, the official said this calls for a thorough investigation and until the guilty are brought to book there would be deterrence against such incidents. Preliminary investigations and spot inspection on Sunday indicated that there was no foul play by poachers as the claws and skin were intact. “Death of tigers by poisoning is a new trend and the specially constituted Special Tiger Task Force is not capable of addressing the issue as poisoning can be attributed to social issues arising out of man-animal conflict,” he said.

Sanjay Gubbi, member, State Wildlife Board, said the issue raised serious questions about the delay in distributing compensation to the people affected by wildlife, who are living on the fringes of the forests. “Timely and adequate compensation is the need of the hour. Conflicts cannot be reduced to zero but they can be minimised to tolerable limits by winning the support of the local community through timely distribution of relief,” he said.