The tiger spotted in the forests of West Midnapore and Bankura for over a month was found dead by villagers in Lalgarh area of Jhargram on Friday. Wounds on the carcass suggested that the male tiger, between 12 and 15 years of age, was attacked with sharp objects. This has laid waste efforts of the state forest department to capture and relocate the tiger. The carcass has been sent for an autopsy.
“The cause of death can only be ascertained after an autopsy. Two wounds have been found on its body, it seems a sharp object has been used to attack the tiger. We will lodge an FIR in Lalgarh police station and file a complaint at Midnapore court,” Ravi Kant Sinha, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden, told The Indian Express.
Villagers were seen taking selfies with the dead tiger, and a crowd had gathered in the village to catch a glimpse of it. This hampered attempts by forest officials to retrieve the carcass, sources said. The tiger was first spotted in a Lalgarh forest on March 2. The forest department had deployed cameras and drones to keep a lookout.
“Officers in Bengal are very competent. Why and how this happened has to be investigated. I am sure the forest department will do a detailed inquiry. What happened is extremely unfortunate. The forest department tried its best and applied the best of technologies to capture the tiger alive, so it won’t be fair to comment till we do a detailed enquiry,” said IG (Wildlife) Soumitra Dasgupta.
With rumours that the tiger was “hunted down by adivasis”, WB Wild Life Board member Joydeep Kundu said if this is true, then it is shameful. “Adivasis are using social media. They have come up this far. But if under the name of tradition they are still continuing hunting, it is shameful. For the last two months, the tiger was alive and the forest department tried everything to capture the tiger. Cages were set up and drones were used to locate the tiger, but the way it was hunted is shameful. Bengal doesn’t deserve to be associated with the word ‘tiger’,” he said.
The forest department had also lost two of its personnel in West Midnapore’s Goaltore during the search in March. Forest guard Damodar Murmu (37) and driver Amal Chakrabarty (40) were found dead in their mini-truck. With their windows rolled up to keep out mosquitoes, they were thought to have suffocated as a generator was also running inside the vehicle to power a searchlight.