The brutality of the animal’s capture by forest officials was caught on camera by activists, and has sparked a debate about animal cruelty. In the video above (viewer discretion advised), the tiger can be seen pinned under an earth-moving machine.
Despite the animal obviously being pinned down by the maw of the machine, forest officials attributed the death to other factors. “The postmortem does not indicate death due to deep injury marks caused by [the] JCB machine,” Terai-West circle forest conservator Parag Madhukar Dhakate told the Times of India. “The report said that the reason of its death could either be septicaemia caused by injuries suffered during territorial infighting or asphyxiation. We have already formed a team to conduct internal inquiry regarding the possibilities that could have led to its death.”
In the same report, an unidentified wildlife activist alleged that death had been due to an overdose of tranquillisers. “The tiger was captured using heavy duty JCB machine, which might have hurt the animal,” the activist said. “Also, the tranquillisers used too many darts to render the animal unconscious. Although the feline revived, something definitely went wrong. An animal, who received multiple injuries and was starving for more than 15 days, cannot die immediately after being captured.”
On the opinion site DailyO, wildlife conservationist Prerna Bindra pointed to the lack of an effective plan as one of the reasons for the animal’s death. “There is a no robust strategy to deal with conflict, and woeful lack of preparedness,” Bindra wrote. “We have failed to understand the nuance, and gravity of conflict. Nor have we invested in mitigating conflict – a trained, well-equipped conflict mitigation team of the forest department working with the district administration and police, a swift-response time, a robust and timely compensation/insurance scheme, and most importantly, a code-of conduct” for people in such a situation.