The Death of a Corbett Tiger
Corbett Tiger Reserve, Monday 20th March 2017


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The death of a tiger at Corbett Tiger Reserve has created an uproar in amongst the wildlife circles. Reading through various accounts and connecting with a lot of people, we try to understand what really happened. The below article is written with all those findings from the many trusted and reliable sources.

It all happened on the 16th morning, forests of Belpadav range in the Terai West Forest Division.

A group of labourers working at a stone quarry went into the forests of Belpadav range, when a male tiger, in his prime age (8 years), attacked a woman named Bhagwati Devi, killing her. Her father-in-law, Lakhpat who tried to rescue her was also killed by the same tiger.

Acting at the behest of the pressure created by the quarrying lobby (the labourers were working for), the forest personnel moved to the scene to capture the problem tiger. It is to be noted that the tiger hasn’t consumed / eaten the mortal remains of the people it killed, but settled at a distance of around 10 metres from these dead bodies.

Three JCBs (earth moving heavy machinery) were roped in immediately to clear the vegetation. As they spotted the tiger, it was immediately darted (tranquilized) for the first time. All the while, there was a huge crowd and commotion, with people thronging the place, getting as close as 20 metres – most of them curious onlookers and a few more filming the event with their mobiles.
The tiger peed after the tranquilizer shot, and this behaviour supposedly wanes off the sedation effect. To add to this, there was a huge uproar and commotion with people shouting, that also could have led to stress and a possible adrenaline rush in the tiger’s body further reducing the effect of the sedative.

A second shot was subsequently delivered and then a third shot. Note that all the shots were delivered in a span of less than 1 hour. As the JCB closed in, the tiger which was unable to move with its rear numb, tried to charge, fighting with its front paws (the tiger could have mustered all its strength to do so). And owing to the commotion to which it would have been exposed for the first time in its life, it tried to escape or avoid humans, and so it hid under the JCB.

At this crucial juncture, one of the in-charges shouted, ‘daba do, daba do’ that translates to ‘pin it down’. The JCB driver (who clearly and obviously wouldn’t have worked in rescue operations), pressed the pedal, and the tiger was pinned under the heavy metal bucket (that is normally used to doze stones or mud). The tiger was under severe stress and it tried to bite the metal bucket pressing against it. The impact was so bad that canines broke under pressure – this news as per the eye witnesses and those present at the scene. The tiger struggled under the JCB, while the in-charge netted him and then caged him. The tiger subsequently died.

The post mortem report mentioned internal bleeding along with multiple fractures to spine and other parts.

The following people were present at the site overseeing the operation - 
1. Dr. Lilendra Joshi and Dr. D K Arya, veterinary doctors who were brought down from Nainital Zoo,
2. SDM BS Sahi,
3. Ranger Sekhar Chandra Tewadi,
4. A G Ansari and Mohan Bhagani, who were acting on the behalf of Chief Wildlife Warden, D S Khati (As per the NTCA rules, CWW has the authority to appoint competent experts to capture a stray tiger)

The CWW D S Khati himself, and DFO Terai West, Kahkashan Naseem weren’t present at the time of this operation.

The tiger killed two people in the morning, and the operation was over by the same day, evening. Overall, the operation was completed in around 7 hours. The tiger died in the later part of the night.

As per some previous successful operations and discussion with some tiger experts who were involved in capture of a wild tiger, a wild tiger is normally observed first, and data points are collected. An estimate of the sex, age, weight etc., can be made even from a pug mark, while its health condition, any external injuries are noticed by following it or by observing it from a distance. The tiger is then driven to a lonely open area with no public intervention and not close to a river where it is darted for the first time. The rescuers then wait for some time, all the while observing the tiger before deciding on darting/ tranquilizing a second time or a third.

For this male tiger in its prime age, a dosage of upto 8 ml for the first time, another 4ml each for second and third is administered (estimated). While this much of dosage is sufficient enough to cause a second degree heart block.