NEW DELHI (AP) – Indian conservation authorities are investigating the death of a tiger that was crushed by an earthmover in a bungled operation by rescue workers to move the animal back to a wildlife park in northern India.
Officials from the National Tiger Conservation Authority on Tuesday questioned officials from the Corbett wildlife park, a local zoo and villagers in the Himalayan foothills to determine what caused the tiger’s death.
Officials in Uttarakhand state said the tiger had killed two people near Bailpadav village last week.
Forest rangers tracked the tiger and tranquilized it. The tiger appeared to have been crushed when the rescuers used an earthmover to try to scoop up the big cat to return it to the Corbett reserve forests.
A video of the operation has been widely shared on social media, prompting officials to begin the investigation.
India is home to about two-thirds of the world’s wild tigers, with about 2,500. Shrinking tiger habitats due to rapid urbanization and the destruction of forests are increasingly bringing humans and wild animals into conflict.
More than 120 tigers died in India last year, while 31 people were killed in incidents involving attacks by tigers, Environment Minister Anil Dave told Parliament on Monday.
Of the 120, 31 tigers were killed by poachers while 48 deaths were due to old age and natural causes. The remaining deaths are being investigated by wildlife experts, Dave said.