Moushumi Basu | New Delhi
The killing of two people by a leopard near Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra on Wednesday coupled with the detection of a dead tigress in the “proposed” Mahendri sanctuary in Amravati division of the State on the same day has set alarm bells ringing.

The first of the two incidents occurred close to Adegaon forest near TATR, whereby the leopard killed a 65-year-old man. His body was found at 9 am on Wednesday in the forest. He had gone to collect the mahua flowers during the early hours. Close on the heels of this incident, a 70-year-old woman was killed in the same area at 11 am. It is believed that she was killed by the same leopard.

The two deaths in a row have sparked anger among the villagers of Dewada and Agarzari. The incidents have been confirmed by the Chief Wildlife Warden, SWH Naqvi. He pointed out that the Field Director of TATR Virendra Tiwari has taken cognizance and rushed members of Special Tiger Protection Force and rescue teams to the spot.

In another incident, the body of a tigress was found in compartment 471 of Linga round in the Mahendri Reserve Forest of Amravati division. While the post-mortem report is still awaited, on the spot prima facie inspection conducted by Wildlife Warden of Amravati division Vishal Bansod along with forest staff indicates spinal injury due to porcupine quills as the probable cause of death. Naqvi confirmed that the body parts of the tigress were intact and hence, poaching is ruled out.

A member of the National Board For Wildlife pointed out that the death of the tigress near the proposed Mahendri sanctuary indicates big cat presence in the area and that it is time to take note of the importance of this stretch of the forest. This 80-sq-km stretch is a crucial corridor link between the Melghat and Pench Tiger Reserves.

The proposal to declare it a sanctuary had been on hold since 1994, as a tiger presence was doubted there. Though the forest exhibits a good herbivore population, the Government did not give any priority to this area.

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