India — In a horrendous tragedy, the lives of four male tiger cubs aged between 10 to 15 days were snuffed out in a forest fire near Corbett National Park, one of India’s finest and most visited reserves, on Wednesday, with forest officials not ruling out poachers’ involvement in the fire and ordering an inquiry. The cubs’ post-mortem revealed they died of suffocation.
Chief forest conservator (Kumaon) Paramjeet Singh described the distressing incident near Udham Singh Nagar district’s Nathwali village in Uttarakhand as one that has “shaken wildlife lovers”. He said Nainital-based forest conservator Kapil Joshi will hold an inquiry to find out the reasons behind the fire. He added that Joshi will inquire whether the fire was accidental or if poachers had lit it to trap the cubs.
Three poachers were arrested from Savalde under Corbett’s Bijrani forest range on Tuesday while trying to sneak into the reserve. Officials said local residents had seen the cubs getting caught in the fire, but watched helplessly as a roaring tigress, who could be their mother, scared them away.
Another forest officer Nishant Verma told reporters in Ramnagar that he rushed rescuers to the spot but the cubs had suffocated to death by the time they reached there. A senior forest officer in Nainital said the cubs had crossed into Tarai forest area from Corbett and were caught in the fire.