A territorial clash between two big cats left one of them dead and the miscarriage of its four foetuses, in Umred Paoni Karhandla (UPKWS) Wildlife Sanctuary, 50 km from here.
The carcass of the tigress was found in the Tas beat of the sanctuary on Sunday along with its four foetuses lying nearby. The foetuses were at least 7-8 weeks old.
“The tigress, aged 3-4 years, apparently died in a territorial clash with another tiger, possibly a male. A lot of signs of the violent clash, like blood trail, disturbed forest floor vegetation, drag marks and puncture marks on its neck, are indicative of the clash with another tiger,” said Pench Tiger Reserve Field Director Ravikiran Govekar.
“Part of its body was also found eaten, which strongly indicates territorial clash possibility as cannibalism among tigers is a known fact,” he added.
This is second tiger death in territorial clash in UPKWS in the past three months. A sub-adult male was killed in August.
This is also third tiger death in the region in the past eight days.
Earlier, on November 16, a tiger was found killed with its body parts strewn over three farms in a village in Gondia district. Before that, parts of a tiger electrocuted by some villagers were recovered from Brahmapuri division.
This is the first known time that the fouteses of a tigress got aborted in a territorial clash.
The tigress was first spotted in UPKWS in March this year, indicating that it had recently migrated to the sanctuary and must have been struggling for space. It also shows that it conceived from mating with a male after coming to the sanctuary.
“This part of the forest is the territory of a male called T22. If the tigress had mated with it, it is unlikely to have killed her. There are three males in the sanctuary who often stray into each other’s territories. So, it is likely that the tigress was killed by some other male,” said Roheet Karoo, honorary wildlife warden of Nagpur who is acquainted with the sanctuary.
The 189-sq km UPKWS has at least 10 tigers, including some sub-adult ones.
Asked if the two tiger deaths in territorial clash suggests paucity of space for the tigers, Govekar said, “Actually, the sanctuary is not one integrated whole of forest. There are some breaches. Also, tigers here keep moving in and out. Sometimes they move towards Brahmapuri in Chandrapur district using a corridor. So, there may not be any fixed territories of some of the tigers.”
Karoo said, “The sanctuary that came into existence eight years ago after the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve spillover population started coming here has only one good corridor, which takes it back to where it came from. The other two corridors, to Pench Tiger Reserve and Bor Sanctuary, have big gaps. So, tigers here often tend to cross each others’ territories, giving rise to possibility of clash.”
He said, “A large area of 160 sq km is vacant adjacent to the west of the sanctuary due to rehabilitation of over 60 villages affected by Gosikhurd irrigation project. Wildlife is slowly moving in there…there is ample grass and water from Gosikhurd backwaters is available. Development of this area into a tiger habitat with protection being extended could solve a lot of territorial issues for the big cats here.”
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