The police in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh have found out that people belonging to a tribal community have allegedly killed as many as 11 tigers for sacrifice.
“Tribal community have been killing the animals over the past one year for superstitious reasons,’’ local media reported on Monday.
The police arrested as many as 19 tribals who during interrogation revealed that they offered body parts of big cats to their deities.
“Under the superstition that they believe the practice would ward off the evils from their homes and lives, and bring in good fortune.
“Body parts of the big cats, like claws, teeth and whiskers, were being offered to local deities in the superstitious belief that they would help ward off the evil eye, improve health and bring prosperity.
“Such practices have been blamed for the killing of at least 11 tigers, besides several leopards since January 2018 in Madhya Pradesh alone,’’ the Wildlife Department said.
The forest department officials reportedly found that most of the big cats whose parts were used in the rituals were killed by laying traps rigged with electric wires, or by poisoning them in the buffer zones of tiger habitats with the help of informers paid for the job.
“Most often, after getting information about tiger movements, they would lay electric wire traps near water sources,.
“As soon as tigers get electrocuted, the poachers would remove the paws, claws, whiskers, skin, and teeth and bury their bodies,’’ a senior official in the Wildlife Department said.
Meanwhile, another senior official of the state’s Wildlife Department said the department was trying to create awareness against such practices in the wildlife areas including the legal consequences of killing the big cats.
“We are pasting posters in the villages to make them aware. But we are also ensuring strict punishment to offenders to teach others a lesson,’’ the official added.
According to the figures released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in May 2019, 31.5 per cent of the 656 tiger deaths reported in India were due to poaching and electrocution between 2012 and 2018.
Police arrest poachers regularly across several states in a bid to conserve the big cats
The tiger is the largest species among the Felidae and classified in the genus Panthera.
It is most recognisable for its dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. It is an apex predator, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids.