The sudden death this Thursday evening (September 18) of T4–an orphansed semi-wild tigress brought to Panna Tiger Reserve from Kanha under the ambitious Tiger Repopulation programme in March 2011–has raised several burning questions that authorities and experts linked with tiger conservation will have to address and answer on top priorioty.
A section of the media reported that the tigress died due to injury inflicted by the radio collar. When contacted by Newshence.com this afternoon, Panna Field Director Sreenivas Murthy denied these reports and said there was no mark of injury on T4’s body. He asserted categorically that there was no injury on the neck and said a cyst was however found in the digestive system during postmortem and it has been sent for examination to the Centre for Wildlife Forensic and Health in Jabalpur.
When the attention of a senior forest official in Bhopal was drawn to the state Chief Wildlife Warden’s circular that the Centre for Wildlife Forensic and Health should be involved, without wasting any time in conducting a postmortem if any big cat dies within a 200 km radius of CWFH, he said that this did not apply in the case of Panna Tiger Reserve where a wildlife veterinary doctor was available to conduct the postmortem.
Since the post-mortem was done within hours of locating the body and the tigress has already been cremated, it is for the Wildlife Forensic department to confirm, on the basis of test samples, whether T4 died due to injury caused by the radio collar which could have led to maggots or because of the cyst or a disease like sarcosystis infection that revolves from herbivores to the carnivores. It calls for research to find out if tigers in Panna and other tiger reserves are threatened by sarcosystis infection. If this happens to be the case, this infection could spread among the carnivores. TB, Feline Panleucopenia (FPL), anthrax, hydatidosis and rabies can also be transmitted among the tigers from diseased prey or from carrier animals. Hence it is important that special emphasis should be laid on wildlife health monitoring and disease investigation. This should be an important component of the Tiger conservation programme.