NAGPUR: On Sunday, Maharashtra lost one more dominant tiger Charger (T16) in Umred-Karhandla-Paoni Wildlife Sanctuary (UKPWS). With the latest toll, 20 tigers have died this year in Maharashtra, second highest after Madhya Pradesh where the death of 23 tigers has been reported.
In addition to this, a two-year-old female leopard, which was injured seriously in road hit on NH7 near Deolapar on December 16, succumbed to injuries on Sunday.
In yet another incident on Chandrapur-Mul road, a sloth bear was seriously injured by a vehicle. It is being treated at the transit treatment center. Wildlife vets attending the bear said its condition was critical.
“The PWD’s reluctance to construct mitigation measures on the said patch is causing regular wild animals deaths,” said Nikhil Tambekar, who is monitoring wild animal deaths on this stretch.
According to Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) divisional forest officer (DFO) Rahul Gavai, T16, about six years old, was found dead in compartment number 226 in Chichgaon beat in Paoni range, 75km from here.
A section of tourists saw the motionless tiger during safari around 8 am. The death was confirmed by RFO. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and chief wildlife representatives Roheet Karu and Sanjay Karkare respectively, wildlife vets Dr. BM Kadu, Dr. Chetan Patond and livestock development officer (LDO) Dr. Gunwant Bhadke were present.
According to sources, there was a difference of opinion among vets on the cause of death. One of the vets said a waterhole was hardly 500m away from the spot where the tiger lay dead. “There were fresh pugmarks of the tiger near the water source. Besides, there were synoptic changes in its body parts indicating it was poisoned,” he said.
Sources suspect it may be the handiwork of some locals from Nimgaon village inside the sanctuary. There were no injury marks on the body to indicate any territorial fight No body parts were also found missing.
Earlier, three animals have died near the same village. The team collected samples to ascertain the cause of death including any infection or suspected poisoning. Samples have been collected for toxicological, forensic and histopathological investigation.
“The surrounding area of the sanctuary has been known for a history of unnatural deaths in the past too. Considering this, the forest department will be looking into all aspects of the case including suspected revenge killing,” said DFO Gavai.
Meanwhile, with the latest death of leopard during treatment in Gorewada, the death toll has mounted to 93 this year. Over 23 leopards have died either in train or road hits.
Nandkishore Kale, divisional manager Gorewada project, informed the leopard was badly injured and died due to injuries and cardio-respiratory failure. The body was disposed of in the presence of vets and Gorewada officers.