BHOPAL: In a rare case of infighting between big cats, an adult tigress was killed and eaten by a tiger in Kanha National Park of Madhya Pradesh. This is a fresh instance of cannibalism reported among MP tigers, said sources.
The partial remains of the tigress including skull and paws of the tigress were found on Saturday evening and the viscera has been sent for further analysis. “The animal that got killed seems to be a tigress while the cannibal is a tiger. We are trying to match the stripes,” said Kanha’s field director K Krishnamurthy.
There can be no other reason than territorial fight, Krishnamurthy said, adding, it was the rarest case in which tiger’s body had been eaten to such an extent when the area has a good prey base. Parts of the carcass was found by a patrol team at Mundidadar. The forest guards who were on elephants saw the scattered parts of the tiger and informed the senior officials.
Officials say in the carcass, claws and canines were intact, thus ruling out any foul play. The forest officials and experts from WWF and WTI who surveyed the area where the carcass was recovered had submitted their preliminary report. There are quite a few instances where cubs are eaten by adult tigers but two adult tigers fighting and one eating the other is rare.
“Though there have been instances of cannibalism among animals, in tigers, it is rare,” said the field director.
Eating is never meant to satiate the hunger but is an extension of the fight. The experts also deny linking the ‘tiger-eating-tiger’ instance with declining prey-base in forests. Kanha in-fighting could also be explained in the backdrop of the fact that it has a good population of tigers.
Experts say most of the tiger populations in well-established tiger reserves have reached its carrying capacity, posing a fresh challenge to deal with dispersals and conflicts.
Tigers are either getting killed in a war of territorial supremacy or moving more than 200 km from their place of birth and meeting unnatural deaths, said an official. Almost all tiger reserves have already exceeded their carrying capacity, he said adding “This shows that the forest department has made good conservation efforts. But, now we must think about extending more protection to the tiger corridors and territorial divisions.
Madhya Pradesh was declared a ‘Tiger State’ in 1995 when it harbored nearly 20% of India’s tiger population and nearly10% of the world’s tiger population. Now the scene has changed. The tiger death toll in the state is alarming.