Tiger Mahavir death: NTCA & WII team begins probe

Angul: A team of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) reached Satkosia Tiger Reserve (STR) and has begun an investigation to establish the exact reason behind the death of male tiger Mahavir (also known as MB-2) in the core area of the forest on Wednesday.

The team comprising NTCA IG Amit Malik and WII researcher K Ramesh will investigate whether the death of the MB-2 was natural or due to some other reasons. The officials will also study the condition of tigress Sundari which is currently at Raigoda enclosure.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Sudarshan Panda informed, “Prima facie investigation reveals there was no negligence on part of the officials. The monitoring team had kept a tab on the animal as much as it was possible through the satellites. The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) has been directed to visit the spot and talk to the locals where the tiger was roaming following which further action will be taken.”

The post-mortem of Mahavir was done by three doctors and veterinary surgeons and the samples have been sent for forensic tests, DNA profiling and psychological tests, added Panda.

Panda further stated, “Forest officials were unaware of the wound on the tiger’s neck as the animal was moving in the core area of the jungle. There is no chance of poaching and the locals were very co-operative. It cannot be said that the tiger has been killed by anyone.”

However, sources said the NTCA team is likely to investigate if there is any complicity of poachers with Mahavir’s death and study the circumstances under which the animal received injuries on its neck.

It is pertinent to note that the NTCA had on Thursday temporarily put the country’s first translocation programme between Madhya Pradesh and Odisha on hold, following the death of the tiger.

“After detailed investigation into the incident, the final decision on the relocation project will be taken,” NTCA DG Dr Anup Nayak had said.

Mahavir was three-year-old and brought to Satkosia from Kanha Tiger Reserve as part of the translocation programme.

The big cat was spotted dead by forest officials on Wednesday afternoon. Later, a release issued by the Satkosia Tiger Reserve informing that a deep lacerated and five days old maggot-infected wound was observed in the dorsal neck region of the tiger which might have caused the death.