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2 Assam tigers killed
- Villagers ‘avenge’ buffalo death by poisoning big cats

Guwahati, Oct. 6: Villagers have poisoned two tigers to death at Orang National Park, 150km from here, at a time when Assam is celebrating Wildlife Week. The tigers paid with their lives for having killed a buffalo belonging to the villagers earlier this week.

An official of Mangaldoi wildlife division, under whose jurisdiction the national park falls, disclosed today that the two tigers were poisoned on Tuesday and Thursday at Bhabapur village on the fringes of the national park after a buffalo was killed.

Two tigers were slain in a similar manner in the park last winter. The number of tigers in the park, according to the 2000 census, was pegged at 20. The Wildlife Institute of India is conducting a fresh census at present.

The tigers had attacked the buffalo and dragged the carcass inside the park and had then gone to a waterhole to drink. Some villagers, who had watched the entire episode, laced the buffalo carcass with poison.

“The villagers noticed all this and laced the carcass of the dead buffalo with some variety of insecticide. The tigers perished after consuming its meat,” the official said.

The tigers are reported to be between two and three years of age.

“Desolate cries were heard from the mother of the two tigers,” the official added.

The carcass of the first tiger was discovered on Tuesday and the second was found on Thursday.

Samples of the tigers’ organs have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory here to ascertain the cause of their death.

“We have had cordial relations with the residents of Bhabapur village, but there can always be mischief-mongers everywhere who try to foment trouble,” the official said.

“A relook into the links between the park management and the villagers is necessary. Otherwise, a disaster is waiting to happen,” a state department official said.

The national park, which is considered a miniature Kaziranga, is situated on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra and covers an area of 78.8 square km.

On August 20, a rhino was shot dead inside this national park. The total number of rhinos was estimated at 68 in 2006.

The park is in dire straits, with its roads in a deplorable condition. The forest office managing it has not received any money during the past four months for buying petrol for its vehicles.

Ironically, the tigers were killed at a time that the state is observing Wildlife Week, which aims to create awareness among people on wildlife conservation.

Nearly 60 people belonging to the forest department and representatives of NGOs will be felicitated for their contributions tomorrow, the concluding day of the week.

Forest minister Rockybul Hussain is scheduled to attend the function.

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