Three people has been caught for stealing Prince’s teeth from his carcass. Prince was one of the most photographed tiger of Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The accused are the residents of villages located on the periphery of the national park, identified as Soma, Bomma, and Siniraja, officials said.
According to the reports three teeth were recovered from the accused which is said to have been removed from the tiger’s carcass. Officials, however, said the accused had only removed the teeth from the tiger and were not poachers.
The Prince of Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve was found dead in the Kundkere range of Bandipur with no snout. The reports from the forest department also said that tiger died of starvation.
However investigation on tigers death was again in the limelight after activists alleged that it was a case of poaching. According to data by Wildlife Protection Society of India around tigers dead in 2017 has reached 44 - 30 natural deaths and 14 poached,
Fighting ingress of salt water and erosion of forest land due to climate change, tiger population in the shrinking islands of Sundarbans has remained stable over the last few years with the latest report estimating the presence of 86 big cats.
Upset over what had happened to Prince, wildlife volunteers and conservationists staged protest against KFD for trying to hush-up the case and demanded inquiry into the entire episode. It was only when the images of mutilated body parts of Prince went viral; the KFD got to know about the seriousness of the case and began cracking down.
“Initially they claimed that Prince died of starvation. But the pictures revealed something else. It was only when we pressured that they realised something has gone
wrong and got into the abyss of the case. Even then they could have admitted their mistake and revealed what exactly they observed when they discovered the carcass. If not for our protests and campaign, the incident would have gone like yet another death of tiger in the wild,” lamented an activist.
Replying to the allegations T Hiralal, director, BRT said, “We have arrested three people in links with selling and buying the dead tiger’s teeth. But they have mutilated the parts only after Prince was dead. Hence, Prince did not die due to meat bomb as suspected by the wildlife activists.” However, Hiralal acknowledged that they did not reveal to the media about mutilation of body parts. “We have not hidden anything in the entire issue. Though there was no trace of meat bomb we observed that his body parts were chopped and found within a few yards from his carcass.
We had appraised our higher officials about the mutilation of body parts,” Hiralal justified.
According to the latest camera-trap report conducted by the West Bengal forest department and WWF during November to March this year in Sundarbans, there are a minimum of 83 tigers and could be a maximum of 128.
“The mean of this range has been calculated at 86 using a statistical model. There has been a marginal increase in the tiger count so we can say that the population is now very well stable,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Pradeep Vyas told PTI.