The carcass of a young tiger with its paws chopped off was found at the Kanha Reserve on Saturday, taking the number of big cat deaths to 23 in Madhya Pradesh this year.
The carcass has been found within three kilometres from the core of the reserve and is expected to be 2-3 days old.
Barely a week ago, leopard paws were seized from a bus in Seoni district.
Officers keeping tab on poaching activities in Madhya Pradesh believe witchcraft to be the reason behind tiger paws being chopped off while other body parts are left intact, says a Times of India report.
“There is a belief that you can rain wealth with magic spells using tiger paws,” said an officer.
Last year, a school teacher was arrested for killing a tiger and cutting off its paws for a black-magic ritual.
The police had nabbed him with the paws while he was searching for an ‘aghori’ who could perform the ritual, which he believed would make him richer.
This is the second tiger death in Madhya Pradesh this month. Earlier, a year-old tigress had died from starvation because of her poor hunting skills.
Tiger claws are also in demand to be inlayed in gold to make pendants for necklaces. There is a belief among people that wearing tiger claws in pendants brings luck and power.
Kanha Reserve, alone, has witnessed eight tiger deaths since January, raising the number of deaths in the state to 23 for this year alone.
Forest intelligence officials suspect superstition to be the reason behind these killings. Meanwhile, special task force of the state’s forest department has swung into action.
According to reserve’s officials, the tiger’s corpse was found at around 4 pm on Saturday on Kanha’s buffer zone.
While they have ruled out the involvement of an organised syndicate, it seems that the tiger was killed using a live electric wire.
Also, they have announced a cash reward of Rs 15,000 on any information leading to the arrest of those involved in the killings.