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.
Once 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 »
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)