The most notorious area of mining has been the Kundera range of the park but illegal mining has also been going on unchecked in Uliyana, Ainda and Shyampura inside the tiger habitat.
The mafia takes trucks, tractors and trolleys right inside the park for transporting the stones. These activities start before sunrise and continue till around 10 am on a daily basis, sources said.
In one glaring example, tigress T-17 disappeared around three months ago, leaving behind her three cubs aged around 13 months in her territory close to Uliyana village in Kundera.
As a tigress never deserts her cubs, forest authorities initially claimed that T-17 would return but when it didn’t, they had no explanation. Poaching of T-17 cannot be ruled out, experts said.
Dhirendra Godha, an expert on RNP tigers, said the absence of intensive monitoring was the reason behind the illegal mining activities. Expressing concern over the lack of safety
of the big cats in RNP, he said if a mother tigress wasn’t safe, her three cubs were in danger as well.