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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Poaching lens on cub death in Sunderbans

TNN | Jun 6, 2012, 04.34AM IST KOLKATA: The Sunderbans faces its first poaching probe since the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) notified new rules last month. The carcass of a two-month-old female tiger cub was found floating near the mangroves on the Raimangal river on Tuesday, creating a flutter in the forests as, according to NTCA rules, all tiger deaths are to be treated as poaching cases until proven otherwise. Officials of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve will now conduct a detailed probe and send the post-mortem and viscera reports to the NTCA. The body was spotted near Jhingakhali by an STR patrolling team. Vet and representatives from World Wildlife Fund and NTCA were called in to assist in the probe. The cub might have died a day or two back. As of now, it is suspected to be a drowning case as water was found in the cub's lungs. Since it was only two months old, it didn't even have teeth," said Joydip Kundu, member, NTCA Schedule I animal handling committee. Acting field director of STR and a joint director of Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve, Ravi Kant Sinha, told TOI the cub's lungs and stomach had been sent to laboratory for detailed reports. "We are searching the forests of Arbesi and Jhingakhali for the mother and other cubs. Traces of minced food, chewed by its mother, was found in the stomach. There was no injury mark on the body and all the body parts were intact. It seems a natural death by drowning during the high tide," Sinha added. Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas said two to three teams, led by the range officers, have already launched combing operations in the nearby jungles. "They are trying to track the mother. If they notice anything unusual, they will report us immediately." Though Sinha claimed that initial reports have been sent to the NTCA, a senior NTCA official said they are yet to receive any report. "We haven't received any communication from the Sunderbans officials. Unless we receive the detailed reports and are satisfied with those, this tiger death will be treated as an official case of poaching, as mentioned in a recent directive by the NTCA," said S P Yadav, deputy inspector general (DIG), NTCA. Biswajit Roychowdhury of Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS) said the officials should probe the case properly as Bagna, Kumirmari are vulnerable areas, from where cases of poaching have been reported earlier.

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