A tigress was found dead near the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand’s Almora district, triggering a blame-game between government officials and local villagers over the killing of the big cat.
The tigress, believed to be 8 to 10 years old, was found dead in the Marchula market area in the buffer zone of the tiger reserve on Monday night, officials said.
While the forest department has claimed that villagers might have killed the tigress fearing getting attacked by it, local residents claimed that the vehicle used by people who allegedly shot dead the big cat resembled a forest department jeep.
“It is matter of investigation who killed the animal and how,” said Corbett National Park director Dheeraj Pandey. “I have asked the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Kalagarh to conduct a probe into the matter and submit a detailed report.”
On Monday evening, the tigress was seen in Marchula area, considered sensitive for tiger movement from Corbett.
“Villagers fired at the animal after it reached the populated area as they were scared it could kill anybody,” alleged a forest official of Mandal range, requesting anonymity.
NEEDS QUOTES FROM LOCAL VILLAGERS
Another forest official said, “The post-mortem examination of the animal confirmed bullet injuries.”
On Tuesday, a video was widely circulated on social media that purportedly showed two shots being fired from a vehicle at the tigress, who was in the buffer zone of the Corbett reserve. The 14-second/minute video purportedly showed a white four-wheeler with the barrel of a long gun coming out of its window and pointing toward the tigress. The tigress then charged toward the vehicle before two shots were fired at the animal amid shouts of “maaro, maaro” (kill, kill) in the background, the purported video showed.
HT could not independently verify the veracity of the video.
According to forest officials, the tigress was 8 to 10 years old and physically weak.
“A forest department team of the Kalagarh forest division of Corbett Tiger Reserve was patrolling the area after the animal was spotted there for two consecutive days,” said a senior forest official, requesting anonymity. “The locals were alerted and told not to leave their homes during late night and morning hours.”
Tiger is protected under Schedule one of the Wildlife Protection Act, which provides for punishment of up to six years and a fine of up to ₹50,000 for killing an animal in a protected area such as a tiger reserve.
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