Kolkata: The Royal Bengal tiger, spotted on several occasions in forests of West Bengal’s Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura districts since early March this year, was on Friday found dead in the state’s Lalgarh forest, an official said.
The big cat, which was first spotted on March 2 by a camera trapping exercise in the forest of Lalgarh, formerly a Maoist belt, had escaped several attempts by forests officials to catch it. “The tiger was found dead on Friday. The reason of the death is not yet confirmed. It could be confirmed after the autopsy,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife & Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal, Ravi Kant Sinha told media.
According to local people, several injury marks were found on dead tiger. “It is an unfortunate incident. Forest officials have put best efforts to catch it but they failed. It is obviously a failure. Why could it (tiger) not be captured despite several efforts made by officials?,” State Wildlife Board Member Biswajit Roychowdhury told media.
Shikar utsav’ (hunting festival) is an integral part of the tribal culture in the Jangalmahal region that covers the forest areas of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts and parts of adjoining Jharkhand state. During the festival, tribal youths enter forests with traditional weapons and hunt down birds and even small and medium-size game. The Bengal government has been trying to discourage the practice to save wildlife but hunting still takes place.
The tiger became a headache for the entire administration since thousands of villagers in the backward areas enter the forests in West Midnapore to collect firewood, kendu leaves and mahua flowers. While kendu leaves are used for making traditional plates on which food is served, Mahua is used to prepare a strong local liquor.