Tiger Prince’s snout was found chopped off.

Was a 14-year-old tiger in Bandipur killed by poachers Officials maintain it was natural deathImage for representation only/ Wikimedia Commons
news Wildlife Saturday, April 15, 2017 - 19:05

The death of a Tiger in Bandipur Tiger Reserve recently, has sparked a controversy, with animal activists questioning the forest department's version of the manner of its death. 

On April 3, the carcass of 14-year-old Prince- who enjoyed the reputation of being the celebrity tiger- was found in the Kundakere Range of the National Park. This was two weeks after the tiger went missing. 

Days after the officials at Bandipur Tiger Reserve confirmed the death of the tiger, questions are now being raised on the manner of its death. 

What are the allegations?

The officials at the Bandipur Tiger Reserve have been maintaining that Tiger Prince died a natural death. However, recently photographs of the carcass, in which the tiger's snout was seen to be chopped off, has put the BTR officials in a spot. 

The snout was recovered 200 meters away from where Prince's body was found on Thursday. 

Several media reports quoted wildlife activists who raised doubts on the forest department's version, even expressing concern whether it was a case of poaching. 

Speaking to TNM, NM Naveen Kumar, former honorary wildlife warden (Chamarajnagar) questioned the intention of the forest department officials in trying to pass off the tiger's death as a natural one.

"We have been seeing this tiger for the last couple of years. When the officials confirmed its death, they said that it was a natural death. But, it is only recently, that we have come to know that the tiger's snout was chopped off. How does that make it a natural death?" Naveen asked. 

He feels that the forest department officials have deliberately hidden information. 

"We want to know whether National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines were followed. Considering the snout was chopped off, have they recorded a forest offence case (FOC) on the same day? Most importantly, what was the reason for hiding this information from the public?" Naveen Kumar argues.

Speaking to The Hindu,  wildlife activist Joseph Hoover demanded more transparency from the Forest Department. 

“The place near Kundkere where Prince died, was also the site close to where a tiger was poisoned two years ago and now we have this photograph which was not released the day the tiger was found dead,” Hoover was quoted as saying. 

However, when The News Minute reached out to Bandipur National Park’s Director, T Heeralal, he refuted the allegations. He emphasised that Prince had died a natural death. 

"The post mortem report revealed that the tiger died a natural death. It was really old. The cause of death has been revealed as starvation...there was nothing in the tiger's stomach," Heeralal noted. 

About the snout of the tiger being chopped off, Heeralal said that the act was done by miscreants after the tiger's death. He rubbished media reports that said that poaching was the reason for the animal’s death. 

"It is not poaching. The snout that was chopped off has been recovered from 200 meters from where the tiger's body was found. It is an act of miscreants that was done a few days after the tiger died. There is no need for anyone to suspect what we say," Heeralal said. 

He said that the department did not deliberately hide any information regarding the death of the tiger. 

"I have reported to my senior officials, about the missing snout. Everything has been done according to procedure," Heeralal argued. 

Also read: Bandipur's celebrity tiger, Prince, dies of old age

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