TN: Postmortem report suggests one tiger died of poisoning, other died of injuries

According to sources in the forest department, the carcass of a cow was found 100 meters from where the tigers were found dead, leading to suspicion that the big cats might have been poisoned.
Forest dept officials cremating the tigers after postmortem examination | express
Forest dept officials cremating the tigers after postmortem examination | express

NILGIRIS: Postmortem examination of two tigers, that were found dead near Avalanche dam surplus water channel in Kundha taluk on Saturday, has pointed to circumstantial poisoning of one of them. The other tiger died of injuries, suspected to have been caused in a fight with another animal, forest department sources said. Also, officials confirmed that the animals were male, aged eight and three respectively, and not female as was initially believed.

A team of veterinarians comprising K Rajesh Kumar of Theppakkadu, E Vijaragavan of ATR, S Sadasivam of STR, Revathy and Mohankumar from animal husbandry department conducted the postmortem examination. According to sources in the forest department, the carcass of a cow was found 100 meters from where the tigers were found dead, leading to suspicion that the big cats might have been poisoned. Officials ruled out poaching attempt as skin, canine teeth and nails of the animals were intact.

Sources added that there were no external injuries on the eight-year old tiger, but traces of cattle hair and fluid were found in its stomach. The other animal had injuries in back and neck with fracture of vertebral column. The injuries might have been due to fighting with another tiger and porcupine quills, hair and meat of the prey were in his stomach, sources added.    

A senior forest department official said, “We found circumstantial evidence for poisoning of eight-year-old tiger as field level staff spotted a cow carcass close by. There is a high chance that the contents in its stomach could be cattle hair. We will send organ samples of the tigers and the cow for forensic and toxicology analysis since the veterinarians could not establish poisoning as the cause of death.

The carcass had decomposed and we suspect the animal died four days ago.” He added that the results will be out next week. “A case has been registered under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and a special team consisting of 20 members is perambulating the area along with a sniffer dog to find out clues. Our team is enquiring the nearby farm owners and residents.

We are also investigating whether tiger deaths are a case of retaliatory killing,” the official said. Emerald village is located within 300 m from where the tigers were found dead. The locals cultivate tea, carrot and horticulture crops on a small level there. A total of six tigers have died in Nilgiris so far this year, of which, three died in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and three in Kundha taluk, sources said.

Nilgiris-based Founder of Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust N Sadiq Ali told TNIE that the department should strengthen informers network by paying them incentive to prevent such incidents in future. Further, he said the forest department should ban grazing of cattle in forest areas to prevent tiger attacks by carnivores and retaliatory killings by farmers.

Recent tiger deaths
16 August: Two cubs died after being abandoned by mother in Segur 
August 17: Tigress aged seven died in Naduvattam in a fight with another tiger
August 30: Tiger aged 11 years died in Kargudi. Old age and fight with another suspected to be causes.
September 9: Two tigers found dead at Emerald dam

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