Panaji: Carcasses of a tigress and her cub were recovered from Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa’s Sattari taluka on Wednesday, days after her two other cubs were found dead nearby, prompting the Centre to constitute a two-member committee to ascertain the cause of their death.
Soon after the fourth carcass was found on Wednesday, the Goa forest department arrested three men suspected of poisoning the tigress and her cubs, officials said.
“After the recovery of the carcass of the tigress, her cub was found dead within a one km radius during a combing operation. While one of her cubs was found dead on Sunday, the carcass of another cub was recovered on Tuesday,” the official added.
The carcasses were recovered in the forests of Golavali village in Sattari taluka.
The tigress and her three cubs were captured roaming in the area on the cameras set up by the forest department on December 23, 2019.
Goa forest department on Wednesday arrested three men for killing the four tigers in the Mahadayi wildlife sanctuary, minutes after the fourth carcass was found. The forest department arrested three men residing near the spot where the carcasses were recovered.
The trio – Vitho Zipo Pawne (60), Nalo Nago Pawne (55) and his younger brother Bombo Nago Pawne (45) – was arrested under the Wildlife Protection Act, a senior forest department official said.
The forest department prima facie suspects that the felines were poisoned in a “revenge killing” for preying on cattle in the village.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change constituted a high-level committee to inquire into deaths of the tigers.
Deputy inspector general (forests) Nishant Verma in an office memorandum announced the formation of the committee to inquire into the deaths of the tigers. The two-member committee is headed by Rajendra Garawad, a senior official of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
The committee will inquire into the cause of deaths and also investigate the response/action taken by the concerned state forest department authorities, the memorandum said.
The committee will also suggest the legal course of action as per provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as mandated under Standard Operating Procedure of National Tiger Conservation Authority dealing with tiger death, it said.
According to forest department officials, a combing operation was launched in the Mahadayi forests to look for more carcasses.
Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar, who has been camping near the site, lamented that the forest department did not have proper infrastructure to conduct a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of death.
Earlier in the day, state health minister Vishwajit Rane demanded an investigation by a central team into the deaths.
Rane, in whose assembly constituency the deaths were reported, tweeted, “With reference to the two cubs that have been found dead at Mahadayi wildlife Sanctuary, Sattari, I would request Union Minister for Forest Shri @PrakashJavdekar to intervene and send a central team to conduct a detailed investigation into the matter.”