Central team starts probe into big cat deaths in Goa

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Central team starts probe into big cat deaths in Goa

Saturday, 11 January 2020 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

A two-member team set up by the Union Environment Ministry has started probing into the deaths of a tigress and three cubs in Goa’s Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary spread over a 208-sq-km area.

The Central Ministry has taken exception to various reports that the striped cats were victim of the State Government’s failure to act on the repeated complaints by the locals about tigers’ killing their livestock in the region.

Rajendra Garawad of the NTCA and Mumbai-based Deputy Director of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) are likely to submit their report by January 14, 2020.

 “The State Government should have taken adequate steps to protect the tigers and prevent backlash by the locals who might have killed the big cats in anger. However, only after we get the report from our team we will know about what led to their deaths,” said a senior Ministry official.

While the Goa forest officials said that three people have already been arrested in this regard, the central team is inquiring if there was any possible negligent of the part of the State Government and other agencies responsible for safety of the tiger.

According to a memo issued by Deputy Inspector General (NTCA) Nishant Verma, the team has been tasked with “inquiry into the cause of tiger death”, “response taken by concerned state forest authorities”, compliance of standard operating procedures with regards to tiger death and “submission of report within seven day”.

On January 8, the carcass of the fourth tiger was found near Golvali village in Sattari sub district in North Goa.  According to a complaint filed by the Forest department officials, three person have been accused of poisoning the carcass of a buffalo, which had been previously ambushed by one of the tigers last month.

When the group of tigers returned to the site of their kill to feed last month, they consumed the poison and died subsequently. While the first carcass, of a young adult male was discovered on January 5, three other carcasses, which included one adult female and two cubs were discovered three days later.

All the carcasses were in various stages of decomposition, even as the officials suspect that the tigers may have eventually died between seven to ten days ago, after surviving the poisoned meat for several days.

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