The tiger found dead in Sariska reserve last month was poisoned, according to a forensic report whose finding may lead to concern over the safety of other translocated big cats there.
"Organophosphorus insecticide was found in the viscera sample of the tiger by scientists at the Forensic Science Laboratory," Rajasthan Forest Minister Ram Lal Jaat told PTI today quoting the forensic report.
A senior forest and wildlife officer said that they have identified a man who they suspected had poisoned the tiger to death and the matter was being probed.
In a setback to efforts for reviving tiger population in Sariska, the carcass of a tiger identified as " ST-1"-- one of the five tigers translocated to the Sariska reserve since 2008 was found dead on November 14.
Sariska lost all its native tigers by 2004-05, mainly to poaching.
The report, submitted yesterday, proved true the apprehensions of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
During his visit to the park following the tiger's death, Ramesh had expressed fears that it could be a case of poisoning and had admitted there was failure of "governance and administration".
Taking serious note of the death of the tiger, the state government initiated an enqurity and suspended two senior officials- Divisional Forest Officer B Praveen and Assistant Conservator of Forest Mukesh Saini- on the charge of dereliction of duty on November 16.
A dew days later, the government transferred Field Director and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Sariska, K K Garg to Kota, and suspended a forest guard Ramgopal on the charge of dereliction of duty.
"Both the central and state governments have failed in saving the animal.... No bullet wound (was found)... I think there is a very preponderant possibility of poisoning," Ramesh had said while visiting the sanctuary soon after the incident which sparked a controversy over the government's tiger revival plan.
The minister said he had arrived at the conclusion after talking to villagers and experts at the site.
State forest officials said the body of tiger, which happened to be the first one to be relocated in Sariska in 2008, was detected almost 72 hours after the death and some of the vital organs like tongue were missing.
Following the incident, tiger expert Belinda Wright sought to question the entire translocation process saying that the authorities had hastily shifted the animals without rectifying the problems in Sariska which had led to disappearance of all its native big cats.
"No efforts have been made to close two major national highways which are running through the reserve.
Moreover, villages and influx of pilgrims in Pandupole inside the tiger reserve are a major source of disturbance to wildlife," she had said.
It is estimated that there are around 11-28 village in the core area and about 170 villages situated along the Sariska reserve periphery.