Three tigers found dead in a week in India reserve

NEW DELHI (AP) - Forest rangers in a wildlife reserve in northern India are investigating the deaths of three tigers whose carcasses were found over the last week, news reports said on Monday.

The latest carcass was found on Saturday in the sprawling Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh state. Park director Samir Sinha told Press Trust of India that officials were investigating the cause of the tigers' deaths.

The carcasses of two other tigers were found in the park earlier last week, leading wildlife officials to suspect that the animals had been poisoned by poachers. But Sinha said that can be confirmed only from autopsy results.

India is home to more than half of the world's estimated 3,200 tigers, with most of them living in wildlife reserves.

Shrinking habitats due to the growth of urban areas in India and increasing deforestation have brought the cats into conflict with farmers who live near tiger reserves.

Despite conservation efforts, tiger numbers in India have declined due to rampant poaching of the cats for their valuable pelts and body parts that are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.