Bangalore: The death of a robust four-year-old tiger in the Nagarhole tiger reserve on Sunday has put the Karnataka forest department in a dilemma. However, the cause of death is uncertain.
Though prima facie it is a case of natural death, senior forest officers are concerned about the actual cause of demise. Apart from bleeding through the nose, the post mortem, done by Mysore-based veterinarian Umashankar, has revealed no injury, external or internal.
"It is quite baffling as there was absolutely no injury to the tiger. The veterinarian feels it could have either died of heart attack or could have succumbed to a protozoan infection. But to rule out poisoning, we have sent the viscera and other body parts to laboratories in Bangalore for forensic analysis," said Conservator of Forests R Gokul.
According to Gokul, the tiger had eaten a Sambar deer. "If a tiger kills and partly devours a cow, villagers tend to poison the carcass. As we found remains of a Sambar deer in its digestive tract, we could more or less rule out poisoning. Nevertheless, let's await the clinical reports," he said.
If the cause of death is found to be infection, then the park managers have a task at hand. Barely a month ago, bonnet macaques and lungurs had succumbed to the dreaded monkey fever in the adjoining Bandipur tiger reserve. As it had afflicted field staff as well, the entire task force was inoculated as a preventive measure.
As per the latest census, the pristine 684-sq km park has a healthy population of 64 tigers. These critically endangered cats could be under threat if the forensic results prove otherwise.