, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 191-194
Date: 23 Sep 2010

Secondary phorate poisoning of large carnivores in India

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India, with its huge human population and fragmented wildlife habitat, is plagued with human–animal conflicts. In conflict areas, large carnivores are often primary targets for malicious poisoning. The effects of certain poisons do not stop with the target animal but also affects other species of wildlife in the form of secondary poisoning. This paper describes incidences of secondary poisoning of a tiger (Panthera tigris) and a black panther (melanistic Panthera pardus) in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Wild boars (Sus scrofa), which are considered pests in horticultural plantations, were the primary targets in both cases and were poisoned using phorate, a highly toxic organophosphorus compound. Tigers and leopards hold significant position in the upper most trophic level of the ecological pyramid and are grouped in schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of India. The tiger, as a species, is currently waging a grim battle of survival in the wild. The world over, leopard populations are also dwindling. The implications of the death of these endangered apex predators due to the increase in population of the ubiquitous wild boars are analysed. The merits of introducing a policy of selective culling of wild boars in conflict areas are discussed.

Communicated by C. Gortázar