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Did publicity lead to tiger poisoning?

Experts say Forest officials sharing images of tigers on WhatsApp triggered fear among villagers

Published: 10th December 2016 02:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th December 2016 04:12 AM   |  A+A-

The carcass of a poisoned tiger whose legs and head were removed

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The deaths of two adult tigers at Umblebailu village near Bhadravati, which were often sighted in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve and popular on the social media, has shocked wildlife experts across the state. Blaming the forest department for popularising the sightings and putting its pictures on WhatsApp frequently, they say this had triggered fear and panic in the villages and so the tigers were poisoned.

In fact, 15 days back, a tiger had killed a cow in this village limits. With cases of cattle being killed by them, some locals had poisoned the cattle carcass, experts say.
The highly decomposed bodies of these two tigers (gender yet to be identified) were found at 11 am on December 8 by a patrol party at Umblebailu at Bhadravati division adjacent to Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Wildlife experts say these two tigers were part of a group of four animals and were sighted some four or five times and were even videographed and publicised by forest officials. On December 7, in fact, two to three tigers were captured on camera at Chowdikatte in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Last year, a mother with three cubs was sighted by the department at Umblebailu.

They add, “Putting their pictures and video on social media created fear and panic in this area and this has actually led to the poisoning of these two tigers. In January this year, a mother with her cubs was seen by forest officials and was recorded on mobiles and in cameras. This was circulated all over the social media and unnecessarily attracted the attention of people.”

Questionable Postmortem procedure
Raising objections to the way postmortem was carried out by officials and veterinarians, wildlife experts stress the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines have not been followed. Unfortunately, local villagers and experts add that the veterinary professors from Shimoga Veterinary  Science College were allowed to take away two legs with paw and nails, head bone, canines, and a few other parts. “This is completely illegal. Vets or professors or experts cannot collect body parts even for investigation. This is in violation of the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s postmortem guidelines, the standard operating procedure (SOP) and also Wildlife Protection Act 1972,” the expert said.
As per NTCA guidelines and SOP, the carcass of a dead tiger should be disposed off in a transparent manner so that it does not result in pilferage for illegal trading. Further, when postmortem is done, samples from the spot collected may include blood, fluids, tissue, hair, fur and bone pieces.
A senior forest official told Express in view of the prevailing circumstances leading to the tiger deaths, the case needs complete investigation and a thorough inquiry from NTCA or well known tiger experts.



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