A study by Corbett Tiger Reserve authorities claims that tigers, elephants and leopards have been killing one another, and The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has sought a report from Uttarakhand’s Chief Wildlife Warden (PTI report published online in The Indian Express, June 23). The study gives a count of 36 wild animals killed over a period of five-and-a-half years (January 1, 2014-May 31, 2019) and attributes these to conflict with other wild animals.
Out of 21 elephant deaths, the study attributes 13 (60%) to attacks by tigers, mostly on young elephants. It suggests that this may be happening because hunting an elephant requires less energy than hunting a sambar or a cheetal, and because an elephant provides a larger quantity of food. “It was also reported that even in cases where elephants were killed in infighting, tigers were found eating their body parts,” the study said.
Of the remaining elephants, most were killed while fighting over mating, the report said.
Out of 9 tiger deaths, 7 (80%) were attributed to infighting. These were primarily due to territorial fights, the study said. The remaining tigers were killed because of fights with porcupines and wild boars, it said.
Out of 6 leopard deaths, 4 were attributed to attacks by other carnivores and the remaining two to infighting. Among the former 4, there was definitive evidence about 2 being killed by tigers, the report said, but the attacking species in the remaining two cases was yet to be identified, it added.
The study was commissioned by the Director of Corbett National Park following the death of a tigress last month due to infighting. It calls for further studies on tiger-elephant conflict and, in the case of tigers, the extent of average territorial area, moving patterns and adequacy of the present tiger reserve area.