WAYANAD: An eight-year-old tigress was found dead under mysterious circumstances near the Karnataka-Kerala border on Friday morning. The tigress had reportedly chased a wildlife veterinarian and the forest officials last week.
Kerala forest officials do not suspect any foul play and said that the injured tigress may have died of starvation. It was first sighted last week at a coffee plantation and was limping due to an injury on its left paw.
The forest officials said the tigress may have suffered injury due a fight with other animal and ruled being caused by snaring carried out by poachers.
Mr P Ranjit Kumar, Range Forest Officer of South Wayanad Forest said the tigress was found on Friday morning by a team of forest officials during combing operations. The tigress had been on the loose in human habitations for the last one week.
“After the first attack, the tigress disappeared for three days and only on Thursday we discovered that it was still on the prowl in Sultan Bathery area and hence we had placed two cages to trap and treat her. However it was found dead,” Ranjit added.
South Wayanad Forest DFO Danesh Kumar said the tigress had created scare among villagers in Sultan Bathery area for the past one week. “We were hoping to have caught the tigress alive so that its paw could have been treated. It was around eight years old and we are not sure about the actual cause of injury. The veterinarians think it may have been caused during fight with another big cat,” Kumar added.
The tiger, which is suspected to be a hermaphrodite (one with both male and female organs), has baffled veterinarians who conducted its post-mortem, including a doctor whom it had attacked four days ago.
The tiger was badly injured on its left shoulder and had a shoulder bone fracture and the cause of death has been confirmed as septicemia.
This is for the first time a possible hermaphrodite among big cats has been spotted, say veterinarians. The tiger seemed to have suffered injuries in infighting which could have been part of social ostracism arising out of its sexual status, experts point out.
“It seemed to be a hermaphrodite. It has testicles but no penis and has uterus but no ovaries. It has a tiny hole near the rectum and urine was passed through it. But before we confirm it as a hermaphrodite, we need to have a histopathological examination. This is a very curious case and I have never come across anything like this before,” Mr Arun Zacharia, a veterinarian who was among the team of doctors who conducted the post-mortem, told Deccan Chronicle.
There are no known cases of hermaphrodites in tigers in the country. If proved, this could lead to new researches on the tiger population in the country. “I have heard about possibilities of hermaphrodites in cats. But have not come across any specimen yet. This is a very interesting case and it really baffled all of us,” Mr Zacharia said.
The adult cat was found dead near a coffee plantation in Pappilassery by the tracking team that has been searching for it for the last four days. The tiger had attacked Mr Zacharia when they were trying to tranquilise him. “The cat had a bad injury on the left shoulder and the shoulder joint had a fracture. Its internal organs were affected due to septicemia,” Mr Arun Zacharia said.
The post-mortem of the tiger has been videographed and samples of its tissues have been collected for pathological examination and research. The body of the tiger was later burnt inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, South Wayanad DFO P.Dhanesh Kumar said.