A forest guard at the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) was suspended on Sunday after a departmental inquiry found him responsible for the death of a Royal Bengal tiger earlier this month.
On June 18, the carcass of a 10-year-old tiger was found with bullet marks at Japoripothar, under Kohora range on the fringes of the KNPTR.
Authorities had then said that it was a case of “accidental firing” happened when forest personnel tried to “scare away” the tiger from a human-inhabited area. Earlier that day, the tiger had killed a cow in a village, located about 50 metres from the forest. After the tiger’s death was reported, the forest department ordered an inquiry.
A statement from KNPTR Sunday said, “An inquiry conducted by the assistant conservator of forest into the incident revealed that the firing was unwarranted based on which staff concerned was suspended.”
The post mortem, which was conducted as per National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) protocols, showed that the bullet had gone through the animal’s lungs and heart, it further stated.
“When the villagers saw that the cow had been killed, we placed our forest staff there,” said P Sivakumar, director, KNPTR. Even if the tiger was not spotted till the evening, the department had said that the guards should be stationed there for the villagers’ safety, he added.
“One of our guards insisted that the tiger had moved back into the forest area. He tried to carry out the search operation himself, which is when the incident happened. As per our findings, he had not fired in the air, as was claimed before. Since he flouted protocol, he has been suspended,” added Sivakumar.
While KNPTR, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for the iconic one-horned rhinoceros, it also has a population of elephants, wild water buffaloes, swamp deer and tigers. It was declared as a Tiger Reserve in 2006. At present, KNPTR has 121 tigers.