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New twist to tiger death at Corbett

                                                                                                         The Pioneer, Dehradun, 4th June, 2013
 
The case of the third tiger death within a week in Corbett tiger landscape appears to be taking a new twist following the disclosure that a local had informed the department`s anti-poaching watcher about the body, but the watcher purportedly `forgot` to inform his superiors about it.

Officials of the Terai west forest division are questioning two persons, including the watcher, to ascertain the facts. Wildlife activists are alleging that an officer may have shifted the tiger body from inside Corbett tiger reserve to the Terai west division without informing senior officers in order to escape blame for the fatality.

Following the discovery of tiger carcasses on May 27 at a water hold in Dhela range of Corbett tiger reserve and on May 29 at Ampokhra range of Terai west forest division, a third body was found at Fato range of Terai west division on June 1.

The third body was covered with bushes, making it seem as if an attempt had been made to conceal it. On Sunday, the divisional staff held one person for questioning during which he revealed that he had informed the anti-poaching watcher about the tiger body.

When questioned about this development, the anti-poaching cell director SK Dutt told The Pioneer that the Terai west division was investigating into the death so it would be improper for him interfere. Samples had been taken from water holes and sent for laboratory examination to check for poison, he added.

The Terai west divisional forest officer Rahul said that the person questioned on Sunday had claimed that he had informed the anti-poaching watcher about the discovery so this staff member was also being questioned now.

People for Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi said that it was unlikely that if a person had poisoned the tiger, he would go to the trouble of shifting its carcass to Fato.

She alleged that it was highly likely that an officer of Corbett had shifted the body to Fato from inside Corbett without informing his seniors to avoid questions and blame. In a letter to the chief wildlife warden she said that the sudden upsurge in tiger killings may also be political in nature.

"Political killings of five elephants took place in 2001 when a certain individual was accused in a lengthy report of the then Corbett director PC Joshi. The objective of getting the elephants killed, as per the report, was to revolt against an inconvenient Field Director. The similarity in the modus operandi is striking and the involvement of the same individual cannot be ruled out," states the letter.