Villagers poisoning tigers in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : This year till June 1, nine tigers were killed. Fifteen were killed in 2012 and 24 in 2011. All of them, in and around the Corbett National Park area of Uttarakhand. Incidentally three were killed in a span of 10 days recently, not even a week after the centre gave its nod for Rajaji National Park also in Uttarakhand to be declared the second tiger reserve in this small mountain state.

There is no denying the fact that the Corbett National Park has the largest density of tiger population in the country, with experts putting their numbers at over 220. The Park, established for the conservation of tigers way back in 1936 and its immediate adjoining landscape also became the biggest playground for poachers because of the large feline population.

Wildlife lovers here allege that it is not only the density of felines that has made Corbett an attraction for poachers, but also the care-a-less attitude of the forest department, who have been actually accused of assisting poachers. Besides the large number of resorts and other constructions that have come up in the immediate vicinity of the Park area, also help poachers.
However, if wild life sources here are to be believed, it is feared that the death of the three tigers, the carcasses of whom were found near the waterholes on May 27, May 29 and June 1, may not be the handiwork of poachers. The nails, skins and other organs of the animals were intact, which suggest that the killing were not the handiwork of poachers.

It is now being claimed that killings could have been the handiwork of the villagers living in the immediate vicinity of the Corbett National Park and its landscape, to reduce the feline population as they are known to attack and kill cattle. The report doing the rounds is that the water holes may have been poisoned, and the tigers died after drinking the poisoned water.

But if wildlife lovers here are to be believed, it does not appear that the water holes may have been poisoned. “It is very likely that some poisoned meat, may be chicken or piece of pigs got from the market, may have been strewn near the waterholes and the felines died after eating the poisoned meat, rather than drinking the water”, they maintained.

To press home their point they said that if the water holes had been poisoned, the carcass of other animals, who too may have watered from the particular hole should also have been found. “There are no water holes from where only a tiger can drink in a forest, as almost all wild life drink from them, and as such other carcasses should have been found if the water was poisoned”, they felt.

However, having been caught with its pants down the Corbett National Park authorities have sounded a high alert and decided to test the water of the water holes near which the tiger carcasses were found to see whether it was really poisoned.

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A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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