A male tiger killed two eight-month-old tiger cubs in a show of territorial dominance in Mul range of the buffer zone of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, said forest officers.
The incident occurred on Sunday night and forest officers found the bodies on Monday night. Forest officers ruled out poaching. “We spotted pug marks of a female and male adult tigers at the spot. We suspect that the cubs were killed to occupy territory or to persuade the female to mate,” said SJ Bobade, range forest office, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) Buffer, which has 20 tigers. He added that the post mortem report revealed that there were teeth marks of a male tiger on one of the cubs’ heads and the other one was ripped apart from the body.
Five tigers — three adult and two cubs — have died in Maharashtra this year owing to infighting, according to data from NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).
Forest officers and members of the National Tiger Conservation Authority have set up camera traps to identify the killer tiger in the area. “When we found the bodies, they were severely decomposed. One of the cubs had its entire head ripped off while the other had injuries on its head,” said Santosh Peddiwar, forest guard. “The investigation is underway to understand the movement of this animal, who might be dangerous to tigers or other animals in the buffer area.”
In India, there have been 19 cases of infighting among tigers so far, including this incident. Last year, there were 27 cases across the country.
“Most cases of tiger deaths during infighting begin with the need to obtain territory and even a young cub can pose a threat to an adult tiger that has aged,” said Tito Joseph, programme coordinator, WPSI.
“It has been seldom observed that tigers in search of tigresses kill the cubs to draw her attention for mating. However, our team is on the ground and we can say something conclusively only after a detailed investigation,” said Nitin Desai, director, central India, WPSI.