BENGALURU: The recent deaths of two tigers and one elephant in Bandipur Tiger Reserve continue to baffle investigators as forensic analysis has come to a naught with no trace of poison detected in the samples.On January 24, the bodies of two juvenile tigers and one elephant were found in a decomposed state in the GS Betta range of this tiger reserve which has the highest density of tiger population in the country. However, forest officials and wildlife experts opine all the three animals may have died due to herbal poisoning.
“No poison has been found in the analysis. May be it is herbal poison ... which gets digested easily and unlike chemical poisons it is difficult to detect. Since no part of the animals were missing, we suspect the role of some local people. It is not a case of revenge, but it is people with parochial attitude who have committed such a serious crime,” Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) C Jayram tod Express.
However, he added that more vigil will be maintained in the area which in the last two decades has seen such incidents. “We will tighten protective measures and add two more anti-poaching camps. Right from the beginning, this range has proved to be problematic. However, it has improved lately. Presently, we have formed vigil groups comprising three to four of staff to keep a watch and go around in their vehicles, especially in Bandipur, Nagarahole and BRT tiger reserves. They will be on the lookout for strangers or anything unusual that is detrimental to wildlife and sound an alert.”
According to wildlife experts, unlike chemical poisons locally made herbal poisons do not leave any trace. It is usually tribal groups who have prowess in making such poisons which albeit kills the animal but leaves with a clear skin. Dr Prayag H S, senior PhD scholar, KVAFSU-Wildlife Institute of India adds, “As per my knowledge, forensic labs cannot detect all types of poisonous substances either by qualitative or quantitative analysis. Poachers nowadays use highly advanced poisons, mostly herbal-based, which are difficult to detect. Usually phyto-chemicals, like datura seeds, are used to poison tigers. “
However, Karnataka needs an exclusive institute for wildlife conservation which can carry out all kinds of forensic and DNA analysis, Dr Prayag added. “Neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala have come up with an advance institute for wildlife conservation. It is high time that Karnataka sets up its own dedicated advanced wildlife institute — catering to different wildlife needs — as we have the highest population of tigers and elephants in the country. We cannot depend upon others or Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, who are already overloaded.”