The Forest Department has found “circumstantial evidence” indicating that at least one of the two tigers that were found dead on Saturday could have been poisoned, officials said.
They clarified that contrary to preliminary reports on Saturday, that the two animals were tigresses, the animals were in fact male tigers, aged three and eight respectively. The carcasses were found near Emerald in the Nilgiris Forest Division.
S. Gowtham, District Forest Officer (Nilgiris Division), said all the body parts of the animals were intact. However, he said, the Department staff, when perambulating the area, discovered the decomposed carcass of a cattle close to where the tiger carcasses were found.
“We suspect that the tigers could have consumed the meat of the carcass prior to their deaths,” he said. The Forest Department is in the process of identifying the owner of the cattle and are conducting inquiries in the neighbouring villages, he added.
D. Venkatesh, Conservator of Forests (Nilgiris), said external injuries, including a fracture of the vertebral column, were observed on the back and neck in one tiger, aged three. “The injuries might be from a fight with another tiger,” he said in a statement, adding that porcupine quills, hair, and meat were found in its stomach.
Samples of all three carcasses (the two tigers and the cattle) have been collected and sent for forensic analysis. Forest Department staff, comprising 20 members, are perambulating the area with a sniffer dog. A case has been registered under the Wildlife Protection Act in the Udhagai South Range.