Tiger Mahavir was a casualty of poaching, reveals NTCA report

Bhubaneswar: Barely a month after the carcass of Tiger Mahavir (T1) was recovered from Satkosia core reserve forest, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) submitted a detailed assessment report revealing that the death of T1 took place due to ‘poaching’. The finding is contrary to the claims of Odisha government that the tiger died due to multiple organ failure following a wound on his neck.

The NTCA has also blamed the State government for the incident and issued strict instructions to initiate action against all concerned authorities who have attempted to conceal the factors behind its death.

In its report submitted to the PCCF Wildlife, State Chief Secretary and the Forest department on December 11, the NTCA elaborated that prima facie analysis and investigation based on the pictures, documents, nature of injury sustained, tracking team investigations and independent interactions with the field staff revealed that the death of the tiger was due to injury sustained from a snare trap and a clear case of poaching. The NTCA further stated that the concerned authorities have not proceeded with logical investigation.

“There have been attempts to conceal factors behind the death of the tiger, which is due to snaring. This warrants serious action against all concerned,” the tiger conservation body pointed out in the letter urging the state government to initiate immediate action against those responsible.

The NTCA has stated that the post mortem report of the tiger is not satisfactory and incomplete. Besides, it pointed out that the area where the tiger died had recorded poaching cases in the recent past which is big reason of worry.

Wildlife experts are of the view that if the Satkosia forest authorities carry out proper probe into the death case, lot of crucial information might come out.

“Had the officials stressed on collecting evidences from the spot in the initial stages, the whole confusion over the death of the big cat could have been solved by now. If there was a trap which caught the tiger causing an injury, then question arises where did the trap vanish?” questioned tiger expert Dr Khageswar Nayak.

The tiger conservation body reiterated that all necessary assistance and support shall be rendered from NTCA to take forward the tiger augmentation project in the right earnest.

The report by the NTCA also cited concerns that adequate preparedness like mobilisation of ‘Kumki’ (trained) elephant herd in the area, presence of technical experts, winning the confidence of the local residents were not ensured before releasing the tiger into the wild.

This apart, the NTCA was also concerned regarding the relocation of tigress Sundari.

With the tigress sourced from Bandhavgarh reserve at present rehabilitating in an enclosure following allegations of its attack on humans and animals near Satkosia reserve, the NTCA has said that the rehabilitation enclosure holding the big cat needs serious modifications to enable positive conditioning of the tiger before releasing it into the wild.

The report of NTCA further mentioned that T2 (tigress Sundari) has been put through tremendous stress and needs to be reconditioned before it is released into the wild. The rehabilitation enclosure holding T2 needs adequate wilderness enrichment and modification. Tiger augmentation process will have to remain in abeyance before multiple issues flagged out are sorted out, the NTCA pointed out in the report.

The officials of the Satkosia Tiger Reserve or State Forest department are yet to respond on the NTCA report. As soon as we get a response we will update it.