THREE tiger cubs, all less than six months old, were crushed under a train in the Junona forest range in Chandrapur district on Thursday.
Chandrapur Chief Conservator of Forest Rama Rao said: “They were crushed under the Ballarpur-Gondia train.” “Initially, we found only two carcasses, of a male and a female. But there were parts that did not match with the two cubs, so we searched the tracks again. We found one less than 500 metres away. It was completely mutilated so we couldn’t ascertain the gender,” Rao said.
“In the post-mortem, no signs of electrocution or poisoning were found… We have called the train driver for questioning.”
Four trains ply between Ballarpur and Gondia daily and pass through patches of thick forests which are home to a range of wild animals. Many wild animals, including tigers, have been crushed under trains in the past. In 2012, a tigress was killed and another injured. Leopards, gaurs and bears too have been killed.
Asked if forest staffers and the Railway authorities knew of the movement of the tigress, Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) Managing Director Hrishikesh Ranjan, in whose jurisdiction the mishap happened, said, “The movement of the family was known but it would generally take the path of nullahs for crossing and rarely use tracks. In 2012, when a tigress was killed, we had told the railway authorities to run trains slowly in areas frequented by wildlife. But apparently that caution is not observed.”
Avni’s cubs spotted
The two cubs of Avni, the tigress killed on November 3, were sighted for the first time near Vihirgaon village in Pandharkawda. Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Sunil Limaye said, “Our teams have gone to the spot and we hope to catch them.”