An incident of Forest officials allegedly hushing up the death of a tiger caught in a ‘jaw trap’ has come to light in the limits of Bandipur National Park.
A 10-year-old male tiger was found dead in the Kalkere range of the Park on December 30 and the official version was that the animal died of hunger. One more tiger was found dead at the same spot on December 31 after being caught in a ‘jaw trap.’
It is said senior officers visited the spot clandestinely and buried the caracass. They are also said to have taken photographs of the dead animal and the ‘jaw trap.’
According to the guidelines framed by National Tiger Conservation Authority, post mortem on tigers should be conducted in the presence of two representatives of non-governmental organisations. Accordingly, two representatives were present during the post mortem on the tiger which died of hunger. However, sources in the Forest department say that the officials have maintained secrecy on the ‘jaw trap’ death of the tiger.
There had been no reports of ‘jaw trap’ deaths in the State for the past three years. The practice of hunting animals using this type of trap is more prevalent in North India and the tribals of Madhya Pradesh are said to be experts.
The first such case came to light in South India at Nagarahole National Park in 2002. Two hunters were arrested in Veeranahosahalli, Nagarahole in 2008 for using the trap. It is said the forest officials are attempting to suppress the recent incident to escape laxity charges. A wildlife expert, who wished to be unnamed, said true facts would come to light if a CID investigation is ordered into the death of tigers.
Dr K T Hanumanthappa, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bandipur, told Deccan Herald that a tiger died of oral lesions in Kalkere range and that the caracass was burnt after a post mortem. He denied any ‘jaw trap’ deaths of tiger in the Range.
What is a jaw trap?
A common foothold trap is made of two jaws, a trigger in the middle and one or two springs. A round pan usually acts as a trigger. The traps, usually laid on the tracks frequented by animals, are anchored to the earth with the help of strong chains and are camouflaged with dry leaves.
As soon as the animal steps on the trigger, the trap closes around the foot clamping down its limb or paw. As the animal struggles to free itself writhing in pain, the steel vise cuts into its flesh, some times down to the bone.
The trapped animals are sometimes gunned down by hunters, while in some cases they die of pain and hunger.