Forest guards in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam on Tuesday found carcasses of a Royal Bengal tiger and a one-horned rhinoceros lying close to each other in the Bagori range, with authorities suspecting the deaths to be a result of a fight between the two animals.
“Carcasses of a rhino and a tiger were discovered on Tuesday lying close to each other, with the preliminary suspicion being that the two had died following a fight. While both carcasses were slightly decomposed, the body parts, including the rhino’s horn, were found intact, thus confirming that it was not a case of poaching,” Kaziranga director Satyendra Singh said.
While the tiger was a sub-adult male estimated to be about two-and-a-half-year old, the rhino was a female aged about 20 years. Singh said. “Fighting between tigers and rhinos, as also between members of other species, is common in Kaziranga, but the death of both animals in a single incident is slightly rare.”
The bodies were found close to the Boisamari anti-poaching camp under the Bagori range of the 850 sq km national park after forest guards on duty got the smell of decomposed bodies.
Singh said there could be another possibility behind the incident. “The second possibility is that while an adult tiger killed the rhino, the sub-adult tiger strayed into the adult tiger’s territory to take a share of the rhino meat, during which the older tiger killed him,” he said. Fresh tiger droppings close to the two carcasses were noticed on Tuesday, lending more weight to this suspicion.
According to official statistics, Kaziranga National Park had lost as many as 472 rhinos due to “tiger predation” between 1982 and 2014, with the highest such casualties — 26 rhino deaths — reported in 2004.