Dead tigers to be frozen, studied

Jun 08, 2009 Bhavika Jain, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A Royal Bengal tiger

Thirty tigers have died in the country's various sanctuaries and reserves this year. With many of the deaths being suspect, the state has decided to take some action.

In a bid to fix accountability and check the practice of showing unnatural tiger deaths as natural, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has decided that each dead tiger will be deep-frozen, stored and studied by an independent team to get to the bottom of how it died.

A team, formed for this, which will comprise an official from the Authority, a state veterinary doctor and a non-governmental tiger expert nominated by the chief wildlife warden of the state. They will treat injured tigers too.

An advisory issued by the Authority -- a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests -- is aimed at bringing about transparency in the way tiger mortality is dealt with in the country.

Since November, at least five tigers have died in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, over six have died in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh and two deaths have been reported from Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in MP.

While it was claimed that the Kaziranga deaths were a result of combat between tigers, an investigation found poisoning caused some deaths.

"A number of reports we received stated tigers died as a result of mutual combat. While tigers can die in combat among each other, it is unusual that so many would have died due to that," said Authority member-secretary Rajesh Gopal.

The Authority will provide central funding for deep freeze and generator facilities. It will be in charge of conducting post-mortems on the carcasses of the deceased .

Gopal added, "If the committee members are unable to get to the site within two or three hours of the tiger's death, we have decided to allot funds for deep freeze facility large enough to hold a tiger." This way, the carcass can be preserved until the exact reason of its death can be ascertained.


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