An 11-year-old tigress was found dead at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) on Saturday morning.
The carcass was found by some drivers on safari with tourists at the Onnampalam sanctuary in the Tholpetty woodland below the sanctuary.
The big cat is said to have died in a fight with a porcupine when its quills were found on the carcass, said Jose Mathew, deputy conservator of forests The Hindu. The tiger was found in a weak condition in the area for the past two weeks and has been under the surveillance of officers, Mr Jose said.
A team of veterinarians led by Forest Assistant Veterinary Officer Ajith Mohan performed an autopsy on the carcasses in accordance with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) protocol. Mr. Jose supervised the autopsy.
The samples taken from the carcass will be sent to the regional chemical examination laboratory in Kozhikode for examination, he said.
A forest ministry monitoring program for 2017-18 had revealed that the WWS, a biodiversity hotspot in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, has the largest tiger population in the state. Of the 190 tigers in the state, 120 have been identified in the WWS, which is part of a large forest complex that hosts the largest single population of tigers in India.