A tigress, designated C3, and her two six-month-old cubs were found dead in Umred Pauni Karhandla reserve on Friday evening. The animals are suspected to have died due to poisoning as a half-eaten cattle carcass was also found nearby.
The tragedy struck the sanctuary at a time when it was coming along well and the tiger count had increased to 11 in the latest estimation. The incident, a case of revenge killing, must have occurred around four days ago, but was noticed at 4pm on Friday.
Officials have arrested the accused, Diwakar Nagokar, from Navegaon (Sadhu) village. The tigress and cubs lay dead in the forest; an agricultural field of Nagokar is close by. The village is 2 km from the spot.
The tigress was a spawn of the park’s dominant tigress, Chandi, who had migrated to another division of the forest last year. In the last two years, three poisoning cases have claimed eight tigers.
The sanctuary has lost four tigers in the last 39 days, with a tigress carrying four fetuses found dead in Tass area on November 22, 2020.
Pench chief conservator of forests and field director Ravikiran Govekar said, “It’s a sad story of poisoning. As it was dark, the post-mortem will be conducted on Saturday. Such incidents are occurring despite all benefits being passed on to fringe villages.”