New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) Three days after the death of its two siblings, a third orphaned tiger cub has died in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh National Park, officials said on Friday.
The cubs were kept in an enclosure in the field bungalow of the Forest Department after their mother was electrocuted by a poacher near the Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve in January.
“The first two cubs died on April 23 and the third died on April 26,” a Bandhavgarh forest official told IANS.
More than 50 tigers have reportedly died in the past 20 months in Madhya Pradesh, a state known for its forests and tigers.
Wildlife activists allege negligence, exposure to humans and absence of a wildlife veterinary cadre as the main reasons behind the deaths.
Wildlife experts and activists said the tiger cubs, about five months old, died either due to ‘Parvovirus’ or ‘Carbo virus’. Officials denied the allegation.
“Treatment of any animal is on the basis of symptoms… When we started the treatment, viruses didn’t appear, though samples had been sent to IVRI and Jabalpur,” Mridul Pathak, field director of Bandhavgarh National Park, told IANS.
Asked about the exposure of cubs to humans, Pathak said the cubs were kept in isolation and humans do not carry viruses.
The wildlife activists, however, say the cubs were exposed to several people, including Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on April 19 and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on April 21.
“The Chief Minister along with 200 people visited Bandhavgarh and saw the cubs. Four days later, two cubs died. The Railway Minister visited the park on April 21 and the third one died after that… They were exposed to many, violating the norm,” wildlife and RTI activist Ajay Dubey told IANS.
The forest officials have rejected the allegation, saying the department was dedicated to wildlife conservation.
“Had the people who are now alleging helped earlier, we might have saved the cubs… We had even been procuring medicines from foreign and tried our best but no one came forward to help when needed,” Pathak said.
According to Dubey, there is no wildlife veterinary cadre — permanent wild animal doctors — across 10 tiger reserves and sanctuaries, including Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna and Sanjay.
“The government in 2005 decided to form a permanent cadre for vets. The last reminder was sent to the tiger reserves and parks in 2013. Nothing has happened… Right now the veterinarians are either on deputation or contract, which limits the development scope,” Dubey said.
Dubey has also registered a complaint with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) demanding an investigation into all the tiger deaths.