A forest guard has been suspended for “unwarranted firing” leading to the death of an approximately 10-year-old male Royal Bengal Tiger in the world-famous Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR) in Assam on June 18, officials said on Monday.
A senior KNP & TR official refusing to name the suspended forest guard said that the guard was instructed to give protection to households of the nearby Kaziranga National Park areas only. “But the forest guard initiated the operation without the required arrangement. He couldn’t run away when the tiger tried to attack him. Instead of firing in the air, he fired at the animal killing the tiger on the spot,” said the official.
An official statement of KNP & TR said that the carcass of a Royal Bengal Tiger was detected by the staff of Bheroni camp under Kohoral Range of Kaziranga Tiger Reserve on the morning of June 18 in Japoripathar village.
“As per preliminary information, the tiger died due to a gunshot injury during a conflict event, fired by forest personnel of the Bheroni camp. Post mortem was conducted as per NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) protocols. The postmortem report revealed a bullet injury through the lungs and the heart. An inquiry conducted by the Assistant Conservator of Forests into the incident revealed that the firing was unwarranted based on which the staff concerned was suspended,” the statement said.
It said the tiger had killed a cow in a nearby village the previous afternoon (June 17) probably because it had three worn-out canines while one was missing and could not catch its normal prey.
“The old age of the tiger was corroborated by the annual tiger monitoring data available with Kaziranga as well as the NTCA Tiger Cell at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun which showed that it was photo captured during 2014 All India Tiger Estimation cycle,” the statement said.
This is the third instance since February this year in which a tiger carcass was recovered from KNP & TR. On June 5, the carcass of a four-year-old male tiger was found in the Sidha Kathoni area of the national park. Forest officials had said that the four-year-old male tiger was killed in a fight.
Set up in 1908, the KNP & TR is one of India’s seven UNESCO world heritage sites and extends across Assam’s Golaghat, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Biswanath, and Karbi Anglong districts along the Arunachal Pradesh border. It is home to more than 2,400 one-horned Indian rhinos, approximately two-thirds of the total world population.
Besides rhinos, it has 121 tigers, 1,089 elephants, and huge numbers of Asiatic buffalo, swamp deer, wild boar, hog deer, porcupine, and other endangered animals and snakes.