The Centre has sought a report from the Uttarakhand forest department over a study by Corbett national park authorities according to which tigers have been found to be killing and eating elephants, mainly young ones, in the state’s famed park.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has sought report over the issue from the Chief Wildlife Warden of the Uttarakhand government, officials said on Sunday.
PTI had on June 16 reported that the tigers were killing and eating wild elephants in Corbett national park.
A total of nine tigers, 21 elephants and six leopards were found dead from 2014 to May 31, 2019, due to infighting and clashes over issues related of mating, according to the study.
“Out of the total 36 cases for the three species, 21 were reported in case of wild elephants alone. However, a very surprising aspect was that around 60 per cent of wild elephant death cases (13) were due to attack by tigers mostly on young ones,” it said.
Senior IFS officer and in-charge of the national park, Sanjiv Chaturvedi had said the phenomenon of tigers eating elephants is unique.
“One of its reasons could be that tigers need comparatively less amount of efforts and energy in killing an elephant as against that needed in hunt of species like Sambhar and Cheetal. Killing an elephant results in large quantum of food for them too,” said Chaturvedi, director of the park.
He said the national park has a unique ecosystem as there are 225 tigers and around 1,100 wild elephants, whereas other national parks like Ranthambore, Kanha and Bandhavgarh mainly have tigers.
Even in cases where elephants were killed in infighting, tigers were found eating their body parts, the study said.
This peculiar aspect of tiger-elephant conflict needs to be studied in further details, it added.
“Regarding remaining cases of death of wild elephants, it was mostly because of fight due to issue of mating,” the study said.
The study was conducted in wake of death of a tigress on May 27, 2019, because of infighting.
“The recent case of tigress appears prima facie due to forced mating attempts by a dominant male tiger, resulting in fatal spinal injuries,” it said.
The Corbett park, which is spread in an area of around 1,200 sq km, is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. There are estimated 340 tigers in Uttarakhand, according to 2014 census of the big cats. The state has three tiger reserves — Corbett National Park, Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Kalagarh Tiger Reserve.