Death of a Tigress

A hit-and-run case in Bandhavgarh. Who did it?

By Jyotika Sood
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

Death of a Tigress

imageMAY 19: Bandhavgarh National Park, Umaria district, Madhya Pradesh 5.30 AM: Safaris enter park 5.55-6.15 AM: A tourist guide spots a tigress by a reservoir. The tigress, Jhurjuria, lives with her three cubs in the Tala Range in the park.

Blood was oozing from her mouth and nose, and she was limping in the left leg, said Yakub Fazal, a tourist. More vehicles gather at the site. The tigress, half submerged in water, gets out and climbs, clumsily, a steep embankment.

Growling, she charges towards the vehicles, which retreat. A guide informs a forest official about the tiger. 6.45 AM: The assistant conservator of forests arrives at the site. The tigress was limping, unable to drink water. Something seemed stuck in her throat. She entered the reservoir and disappeared. 9.20 AM: Mahouts find her in the Jhurjura dam area. She was dead.

SPECULATION: A hit-andrun case
—A minister’s son, with foreign tourists, entered the park in a SUV at midnight, local tourist operators and wildlife officials told Shehla Masood, who runs the nonprofit Udai in Bhopal. Masood’s sources later backtracked, she said.

imagePOST MORTEM: May 20
—Jhurjuria died between 9.15 am and 9.30 am. A hard object hit her five hours before she died. It injured her left shoulder and thigh, and caused haemorrhage. Post-mortem done in the presence of wildlife photographers and special visitors INQUIRY: Report on June 1 (by Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority)

—Three vehicles entered the national park in late afternoon on May 18. One vehicle returned on May 18, around 9.30 pm, through the main gate. Two other vehicles stayed in the park. The people travelling included Akshay Kumar Singh, the CEO of Zila Panchayat, Umaria, a relative of his and three children, Lalit Pandey, a range officer, K K Pandey, assistant veterinary surgeon of Tala and two drivers. They visited Baheraha in Magdhi Range, which is not open to tourists. The range is located in the south of the Tala range. Then they went to Tala, and returned via the Bhadrashila barrier, instead of the main gate. The barrier is a kilometre from the main gate.

—Strong indication that one of the vehicles hit the tigress —K K Pandey who owns the Tiger Heaven lodge has considerable influence in the area. He was present during the post-mortem and volunteered to bring the report from Jabalpur.

UNANSWERED STILL: —The report does not mention the extent of the damage. “Was it a speeding vehicle that hit the tiger?” Masood asked.

—No forensic examination of the vehicles. The vehicle that hit the fully grown tigress could have some signs of damage or evidence such as blood or hair, said Masood.

—How could K K Pandey drive one of the suspect vehicles to Jabalpur?

DEPARTMENT SPEAK —Forest department suspended sub divisional officer of the park R P Pandey and range officers J N Shukla and Lalit Pandey for negligence.

—Bandhavgarh National Park director C K Patil said politician’s kin not involved in the accident. Matter under investigation, he said.

—Madhya Pradesh deputy chief wildlife warden T R Sharma refused to comment because the matter was under investigation. For exclusive photographs:

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    Posted by: Anonymous | 10 years ago | Reply
  • This is really shameful for

    This is really shameful for all those people who are hunting tigers, we should try to stop them because only few tigers are left. If we will not stop it all tigers would be finished.
    photo recovery

    Posted by: Anonymous | 10 years ago | Reply
  • That is a desperately sad

    That is a desperately sad episode, and a damning indictment of the way that tiger tourism is organised and monitored. Why was no proper examination made of the safari vehicles? It is quite understandable that tourists want to take a tiger safari and unfortunately it seems to be up to individuals to ensure that they are travelling with a reputable tour company.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 10 years ago | Reply
  • respected,Jyotika sood ji I

    respected,Jyotika sood ji I came to know very late about this article, regarding with death of Jhurjhura tigress.since I was present in the vehicle of sri A K Singh, CEO zila panchayat umaria who was on official visit inside the park area of Magdhi range to see the ongoing work :(construction of ponds for water storage for wild animal under NREGA Scheme).Along with us Range Officer ,magdhi Mr lalit pandey was in his govt vehicle with driver mr Man Singh who was running ahead of our vehicle. mr lalit pandey had taken us from main gate at about 3.30 to 4pm .after visitin all ponds( 4-5 )After visiting ponds mr Lalit pandey taken back us to BHadrasila gate at about 7-7.30 in the evening.bhadrasila barrier was opened by forest guard mr.DEVMANI MISRA & his asstt mr Vijay Singh.after that we came to tala.Regarding with the report of Mr Rajesh Gopal, his report is baseless &only to save mr c.k.patil along with some VIPS . Even mr Rajesh gopal did not think necesary to talk us regarding the accedent before submitting his BIASED report. he would have atleast listen to our side, & then submit his report.he came only to cover up the matter and divert the gun to wards innocent people& save the original culprits,(some Vips &top forest officers).Madem if u want to know any from me , I am ready to share with u what I know regarding with our point.thanks.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply