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201203Jun17:28

Cor­bett National Park haven for poach­ers, say activists

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 03 June 2012 | mod­i­fied 03 June 2012
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If wildlife activists are to be believed, at least 15 tigers have been poached in the Cor­bett national park dur­ing the past two months by Bawaria gangs.

Corbett National ParkOnce again, Cor­bett is mak­ing news for the wrong rea­sons fol­low­ing dis­cov­ery of at least four steel traps used for poach­ing big cats, ani­mal intestines and raw meat from a tem­po­rary camp site set by poach­ers in the Bijrani range and another area near Dhela range a few days ago. While the chief wildlife war­den has declared a red alert in Cor­bett and attached a forester and for­est guard to the head office fol­low­ing this dis­cov­ery, wildlife activists state that Bawaria gangs are active in Cor­bett, but offi­cials are cov­er­ing up their crimes in stead of pre­vent­ing them.

Though depart­ment offi­cials deny these alle­ga­tions, there is rea­son to believe that the world’s most famous tiger reserve is not as secure as claimed con­sid­er­ing the fact that some Cor­bett offi­cials on con­di­tion of anonymity, state that the national park is under­staffed, offi­cials lack proper vehi­cles and for­est guards have lit­tle more than bam­boo sticks to tackle armed poachers.

for­mer chair­man of the State For­est and Envi­ron­ment Advi­sory Com­mit­tee, Anil Baluni »

It is very unfor­tu­nate that poach­ers have breached even a secure area like Bijrani. I have rea­son to believe that at least 15 tigers have been poached in Cor­bett dur­ing the past two months. The Chief Min­is­ter is in-​charge of for­est and wildlife and he should directly inter­vene because the level of secu­rity in Cor­bett has con­tin­ued to dete­ri­o­rate with Bawaria gangs mov­ing around freely poach­ing big cats.

Four steel traps, ani­mal innards, raw meat, camp­ing mate­r­ial, a packet of sweets from a shop in Ram­na­gar and beedis were dis­cov­ered by for­est staff on May 24 and 28 in Bijrani zone and at San­walde near Dhela range. The traps were laid to poach tigers and the intestines belonged to a tiger and not a jackal or por­cu­pine because poach­ers don’t lay traps to poach such animals.

The State should fol­low the exam­ple of Maha­rash­tra and issue orders to shoot poach­ers at sight which is the only way to pre­vent Bawarias from killing tigers, Anil Baluni said in addi­tion to his state­ment while being inter­viewed by The Pioneer.

Peo­ple For Ani­mals, Uttarak­hand mem­ber sec­re­tary Gauri Maulekhi has writ­ten to the National Tiger Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity demand­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into the inci­dent. “When Cor­bett staff reached the site of a for­est fire in Bijrani on May 24, they saw three men dressed like Bawarias escap­ing from a tent. Though they were unable to catch the men, they recov­ered intestines, traps and other mate­r­ial from the site. To con­ceal facts the Cor­bett direc­tor informed media per­sons on Thurs­day that the organs belong to a por­cu­pine, which is ques­tion­able with­out proper sci­en­tific inves­ti­ga­tion. Senior offi­cials have con­tin­ued to frame junior staff to con­ceal their own incom­pe­tence.” There have been four cases of tigers being found injured or dead in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances in the past month, but no arrests have been made yet, she added.

The Chief Wildlife War­den S.S. Sharma said that he had attached a forester and a for­est guard to the head office fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of the traps, but claimed that reports of tigers being poached in Cor­bett were based on mis­in­for­ma­tion. “Even if a tiger dies in Hald­wani or Terai, they say a tiger has been killed in Cor­bett. I have declared a red alert and directed the direc­tor to get the intestines tested at the Wildlife Insti­tute of India to ascer­tain which ani­mal they came from.”

The Cor­bett deputy direc­tor C.K. Kavi­dayal said that a trap and signs of poach­ers had been dis­cov­ered in Bijrani but CTR per­son­nel had acted before the crim­i­nals could dam­age wildlife. “We have 175 to 200 tigers and though we have found signs of poach­ers in the national park, we are on red alert and tak­ing nec­es­sary mea­sures to pre­vent poach­ing,” he said. The intestines dis­cov­ered in Bijrani most prob­a­bly belong to jackal or por­cu­pine though the fact will be known after the innards are tested, he said.

Mean­while, wildlife activists are wait­ing to see whether the chief min­is­ter takes the strin­gent mea­sures expected from him to pro­tect tigers in the land of roar and trumpet.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at The Pio­neer via Tiger­net (of NTCA). Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: The Pio­neer, 31.05.2012)

UN Biodiversity decade

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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