Somewhere in the Sunderbans....
A tiger carcass was spotted floating in a river in Sunderbans on Monday afternoon, triggering suspicion that the animal was poached. The tiger, an adult male, was pulled up from the water and taken to the Dobanki range. A postmortem will be done on Tuesday, forest officials said. Initial reports said there was no external injury mark and forest officials did not rule out the possibility of foul play. “It remains to be seen if the tiger died a natural death or was killed. We are not ruling out any possibility at the moment, including that of poachers killing the tiger. But nothing can be said for sure before the post-mortem,” said Atanu Raha, principal chief conservator of forests. A group of tourists from Hatibagan in Kolkata noticed the carcass in the river between the Bidya and Sajnekhali forests. They raised an alarm after which forest officials rushed to the spot. Veterinary doctors accompanied them and examined the carcass. Even though they refused to comment, the forest department is apparently keen on completing the post-mortem fast. The carcass has been kept at the Dobanki range.Several tigers strayed into the villages this year. The last being in September when an adult male sneaked into the Annpur village near Gosaba and killed a few cattle. Several fishermen were attacked by tigers within the Sunderban Tiger Reserve area this year.Former forest department officials expressed concern at the fact that the carcass had no injury mark. “This points at poaching. Often, tigers are killed in fights for territory. But if that happens, injury marks will be pronounced. Since this one doesn’t have any injury, poisoning can’t be ruled out. It has happened in Sunderbans in the past,” said Pranabesh Sanyal, environmentalist and former forest official.Environmentalist Joydeep Kundu agreed. “It is extremely unusual for a carcass to be found floating in the river. Poaching is a distinct possibility,” Kundu said.Even forest officials, who hinted that the post-mortem could be done on Tuesday, were taken aback. “This is the first time that a tiger carcass was found in the river and we are taking it seriously,” said Raha. The incident triggered a panic among forest department officials. Even though they refused to speculate on the reasons behind the tiger’s death, they did not rule out poaching. “The body is intact so it doesn’t seem like poaching. The claws, teeth and limbs are all there. We are planning to form a panel of doctors to examine the tiger. They might recommend a few tests to ascertain the cause of death and we will try to do them. It has been kept at the Dobanki range and we hope to have the report by Wednesday,” said Niraj Singhal, director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve (STR). Senior officials including Singhal, however, expressed surprise at the fact that the carcass was found in the river. “This has never happened before and we are looking into the matter. Let us wait for the post-mortem report,” said an official. In February, a tiger had strayed into Jharkhali. One of its hind legs had been chopped off and the forest department is yet to find out what caused the injury.
Labels: Sunderbans West Bengal