Three tiger cubs were found dead in two forests in Maharashtra on Thursday at a time the state government has said its team had spotted two cubs of slain suspected man-eater Avni near a village in Yavatmal district.
The dead cubs, aged around eight to 10 months, were found dead on the tracks in the morning in the Junona range forest in Chandrapur district which neighbours Yavatmal. But the places where the cubs were found dead and alive are separate by 116km
“The cubs came under the wheels of the Chandrapur-Gondia train. The post-mortem is being conducted,” said Rama Rao, chief conservator of the Chandrapur forest.
On Thursday evening, another tiger cub was found dead in Lohara forest. The cause of death of the third cub could not be ascertained.
The first incident had fuelled suspicion that the cubs belonged to Avni, the suspected man-eater of Yavatmal that shot dead on November 2 by a Hyderabad-based shooter.
The forest department issued a denial, saying the cubs were spotted in Yavatmal’s Vihirgaon on the wee hours of Thursday with the help of a voice recorder that had a tigress calling her cubs.
“Two teams spotted the cubs at 1.30am and 2am near the Vihirgaon dam. Later in the morning, they were caught on camera at the Anji dam,” said a forest department official. The distance between Anji and Vihirgaon is around 7km.
“The cubs look healthy. Whether the cubs too had turned man-eaters would have to be assessed by experts,” said A.K. Mishra, chief wildlife warden. The forest department plans to shift the cubs to the state’s Pench tiger reserve where they will be released in the wild.
The death of three-year-old tiger Mahaveer at Satkosia in Odisha has put the inter-state tiger-relocation project on hold. The carcass of Mahaveer was found in a bush 500 metres from the Raigoda-Nuagada forest road on Wednesday.
Mahaveer was the first of two tigers that had been brought to Odisha from Madhya Pradesh on June 21 as part of a project of translocating big cats.