Three tiger cubs, aged less than six months, were crushed under a train in Junona forest range in Chandrapur district on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the two cubs of maneater tigress T1, who was killed on November 3, were sighted for the first time near Vihirgaon village.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) Sunil Limaye said teams have been dispatched to the spot after the two cubs were spotted walking together. “This means they are in fine fettle. We hope to catch them,” he said.
Regarding the death of the three cubs, Chandrapur Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Rama Rao said they were crushed under the Ballarpur-Gondia train. “The cubs were less than six months old and were crushed under the Ballarpur-Gondia train when the train was going to Gondia. Initially, we found only two carcasses — a male and a female. A third carcass was found less than 500 metres away. It was completely mutilated so we couldn’t ascertain the gender,” Rama Rao said.
Officials have put up trap cameras to check if the mother was also nearby.
Rao confirmed that the mishap was due to a train accident and said no signs of electrocution or poisoning were found in the post-mortem report. However, the train driver, Ahmed, has mentioned at the next Kelzar station that the cubs were already lying on the track when the train was approaching. “We have called the train driver tomorrow for questioning,” he said.
There are four to-and-fro daily trains between Ballarpur and Gondia that pass through patches of thick forests inhibited by wild animals, including tigers and leopards. The track cuts the wildlife corridor between Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve and Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Yavatmal district.
This is not the first time a tiger has been killed by a train in this forest. In 2012, a tigress was killed by the same train, and another tiger was injured. Asked if Forest Department staffers knew of the movement of a tigress with cubs, and if Railway authorities were kept informed about it to avert a mishap, Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) managing director Hrishikesh Ranjan said, “The movement of the family was known but it…would rarely use tracks.”