An adult tigress in the prime of its youth was found dead in the Taraka canal, about 12 km from H.D. Kote in Mysore district, on Saturday.

The cause of the death is yet to be ascertained, triggering speculations that it could have been poisoned that calls for an inquiry. The carcass was found in the H.D. Kote range of the Mysore territorial division and the post-mortem indicated the presence of a bullet in its body.

However, veterinarian Dr. Uma Shankar who conducted the post-mortem said the bullet wound was superficial as it was fired upon by a country-made weapon and ruled out bullet injury as the cause of death.

The wound that had healed was at least six months old and even the pellet retrieved from its body was embedded on the surface and had not caused any fatal injury. He suspected starvation as a possible cause of death. Two samples of viscera has been collected and sent to the forensic laboratory along with the pellet, for toxicology analysis. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) representative D. Rajkumar, who was present at the spot, said the carcass was not fresh and it was suspected that the animal may have died a couple of days ago.

Conservation activists were sceptical of the tiger dying because of starvation as it was in the prime of its youth and suspected that the animal might have been poisoned. Since the carcass came floating in the canal waters it was suspected that the tiger might have died or might have been killed elsewhere and the carcass dumped into the canal. Since the skin and the claws of the tiger were intact, the role of poachers has been ruled out, lending credence to the speculation that the tiger could have been a victim of human-animal conflict and poisoned.

The Forest Department staff said they would wait for toxicology reports and laboratory analysis to specify the exact cause of death.

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