Wildlife & Biodiversity

Sariska tiger died due to heatstroke, cancer: Autopsy report

Activists have criticised the way the tiger was tranquilised, saying it could have played a role in its eventual death

By Rajat Ghai
Published: Monday 10 June 2019
A tigress at Sariska Tiger Reserve. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A male tiger known as T-75 as well as ST-16, which was found dead on June 8, 2019 at the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan's Alwar district, died due to heat stroke and cancer according to the official autopsy report.

The tiger's deaths had evinced protests from conservationists who had claimed that the animal died due to an overdose of trnaquiliser.

“It died due to heat stroke. Close examination also revealed that there might have been septicaemia,” Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan, Arindam Tomar told Down To Earth (DTE).

“A team of experts from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly and another institute in Bikaner did the autopsy. The tiger had a tumour on the right foreleg which was cancerous. We have sent a sample for biopsy,” Tomar added.

The tiger had been relocated from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve to Sariska in April, 2019, to balance the sex ratio there.

According to media reports, the tiger had not been well since the past few days. It had reportedly been suffering from paw injuries. It was tranquilised on June 8 and administered medicine. After being revived, it walked for a few steps and then settled at a spot, where it died.

T-75 is the fifth of nine tigers that were relocated to Sariska in the past 11 years but did not survive.

“The authorities may have said that it died due to heat stroke. What they will not tell you is that they themselves are responsible for inducing that,” Dharmendra Khandal, Conservation Biologist told DTE.

“The temperature in North India right now is 47 degrees Celsius. Even if you consider Sariska’s forest cover, it may be 45 degrees Celsius. If you tranquilise an animal in this temperature, you shut of its thermoregulatory mechanism,” said Khandal.

Thermoregulation is usually done in animals by panting. “When you revive the animal, its mechanism has not yet revived. You then let the animal wander off. It is but natural that it will die,” said Khandal.

Ideally, said Khandal, the officials should have tranquilised the animal, taken it into captivity, provided it with cooling and then examined it.

“They should not have released it till its panting normalised. And they should have done the tranquilisation process during the evening. If they want to help an animal, they should do so whole-heartedly. Or they should not attempt it at all,” said Khandal.  

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