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In Park That Inspired Jungle Book, Tiger Deaths Trigger Alarm

NDTV logo NDTV 01-04-2016 Written by Sanjay Tiwari, Ketki Angre

One of India's most visited tiger parks, the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh was the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book.

But today, a poster with the picture of one of the most photographed tigers of the reserve, fondly called 'Baghin Nala', solemnly reads: "Born 2004, killed 2016".

Four days after the 12-year-old tigress and her two cubs were found dead, locals have continued their protest alleging criminal negligence on the part of forest officials.

A resort manager in Pench, Rohan Waghaye is among the many who protested outside the Turia Gate of the Park. "When there is a tiger or a cub roaming, the gypsies and the tourists are not allowed in that area. Then how did the forest department allow road work in those parts? They were working with earthmovers and tractors and hundreds of labourers."

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Authorities say the deaths are being investigated.

Calling the deaths "shocking", Pench Field Director Shubhranjan Sen told NDTV the deaths could be a case of poisoning and are currently under investigation. The national tiger conservation authority too is waiting for the final report on the deaths and has declined to comment.

But locals raise serious questions on the level of vigilance of the Park authorities, especially given that this is the eleventh tiger death reported in the Pench Tiger Reserve in just the first three months of this year.

When NDTV visited the Range Forest office at Khavasa, there was just one forest officer, where four should have been on duty and the wireless operator, Mohammad Akeel was without a wireless unit.

"It wasn't working, so it has gone for repairs," he said.

Perhaps the only silver lining was that one of the cubs has been found and translocated as the search for the fourth continues.

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