Skinned animal panther, not tiger: Forest dept.

NIZAMABAD, NOV. 15. Forest department officials of Adilabad district recovered the burnt remains of a panther and not a tiger in Gurralatanda of Boath mandal yesterday as reported in a section of the media, according to department officials.

Sources speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Adilabad this evening said the highly decomposed burnt carcass of a panther was sighted by the officials on Tuesday. The officials maintained that the poachers from Maharashtra allegedly killed the panther in Pothareddipalli village under Kinwat tehsil of Maharashtra, skinned and removed the nails. It was then transported by a bullock cart to Gurralatanda coming under Kolahari vana samarakshana samiti of Boath mandal in Andhra Pradesh, which borders Maharashtra State. The wild animal was killed four or five days ago and was in a highly decomposed state when the locals and officials recovered it.

Coming close on the heels of the skinning of Sakhi in Nehru Zoological park, the recovery of a burnt wild animal led to speculation among locals that it could be a tiger. Despite the assertion of the forest officials that the remains were that of a panther, the people were not convinced. The Adilabad DFO, Mr. Bullaiah, rushed to the spot yesterday on information and had a first hand report of what happened. The forest officials today sent a detailed report to the State Government.

The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Adilabad, Mr. A.Kishan, also left for Gurralatanda today.

Sources said the poachers from Maharashtra, frequently hunted for wild animals in their area and also entered the Andhra Pradesh forest area and went ahead with their task of killing wild animals. A panther was killed some months ago in the Boath forest area and skinned. The forest officials, learnt about the skinning after they were informed that a wild boar was poisoned and the same meat was eaten by the panther. The poachers skinned the animal but the forest officials on information recovered the skin subsequently.

It was pointed out that the modus operandi of the poachers in the Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh border which covers Nanded and Adilabad districts, is to kill a wild animal, skin it and carry the remains to other State, to wipe out evidence. This also happened in the present case also as the poachers killed the panther in Maharashtra and burnt the carcass in Andhra Pradesh.

In a related development, the Boath Forest Range Officer, Mr. Anjaneyulu, left to meet, the Kinwat Sub-divisional forest officer and Deputy Conservator of forests, Nanded of Maharashtra district. The forest official from AP is expected to brief his Maharashtra counterparts about the incident and also lodge a complaint with the police there.