Four one-month-old tiger cubs have died in Chandrapur due to severe malnourishment. Three of the cubs, two males and a female, were found dead in the forest, while the fourth one, a female, died in a veterinary hospital of Chandrapur while being treated. Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Divisional Forest Officer TK Dhabekar told The Indian Express, “Our ground staff found two cubs dead on Sunday morning near a canal of the Gosikhurd irrigation project in Pathri range near Saoli town. One cub was found alive but was in a very bad condition and so was moved to Chandrapur veterinary hospital. A search revealed another dead female cub nearby.”
“Unfortunately, the fourth one too died as it did not respond to the treatment. It seems that they didn’t get milk for over three days,” said Chief Conservator of Forest Sanjay Thakre. If that meant that the mother was missing, Thakre said, “We have launched a search for her. We will install trap cameras at many places and also undertake manual search.”
Asked if the ground staff didn’t have any knowledge of the tigress living in the area with her cubs, Thakre said, ”Normally, when the tigress gives birth to cubs, she keeps them very secretively in hiding. It is only when they become about three months old that we can see them moving out with their mother.”
Nitin Desai, Central India Director of Wildlife Protection Society of India, said, “It is true that the tigress secretively hides her cubs but she often comes out to hunt. If there are trap cameras around, her images may have been captured and that she is a suckling mother can be easily made out from her protruded nipples. But because this tigress had apparently gone unnoticed, the possibility of poaching should not be ruled out.”
The forest, where the cubs actually lived with the mother, belongs to the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). According to FDCM Divisional manager PS Rajput, his ground staff had no idea about the family.