Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Change the World by Changing the Conversation


 



Eckhart Tolle was ahead of his time when he advised us to Be in the NOW.  Today, more than ever, we live in a real time world.  If someone gets mauled by a tiger, you will probably know about it within the hour and news broadcasters from Tampa to Hong Kong will have it running in full color video, with the 911 call playing and commentaries from around the world weighing in on who was at fault.


 


People love the blame game and it seems that most of the comments that are posted about such tragic events are assigning blame to the authorities who get called in to kill the tiger when it has escaped and wreaked havoc.  No one who loves animals can blame the tiger for doing what comes natural; nor should they.  What is confounding is that most people never seem to consider that the tiger's owner was almost always the one person who could have prevented the tragedy.  


 


Whether that owner is a private "pet" owner or a zoo, the tiger was being held in an environment that is totally un natural for a tiger.  They are meant to roam hundreds of miles, leap great distances, and kill prey that is larger and far more powerful than a mere human.  If the tiger is in a cage, it is because someone chose to breed or participate in the trade in some way to put him there.  Of course, a tiger attack could happen at a legitimate sanctuary, but in most cases even the sanctuaries are not really doing anything to end the trade.  In many cases they are enabling the bad behavior of those who breed and discard big cats incessantly, by providing an easy dumping ground.  At Big Cat Rescue there is written contract required by anyone abandoning an exotic cat that bears financial penalties if they ever own another exotic or even pose with one.


 


The best way to educate people who are commenting on such stories is to join the conversation.  Whether the story is about someone being mauled by a big cat, or a fair or mall promoting some pay-to-play session with big cat cubs, the conversation quickly shifts and takes on a life of its own in the comments section.  All too often the only people who bother to comment are those who either make a living from keeping lions, tigers and ligers captive, or those who enable them.  Big cats and their cubs need the voices of people who truly care about the plight of captive big cats.  They need to be heard.  


 


Changing the conversation can change the world for them.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chinese tigers learn to hunt under an African sun in bid to save species


Li Quan with one of the cubs born in the African reserve


Published on Monday 27 February 2012 02:07

Any schoolchild will tell you that there are no tigers in Africa – but they would be wrong. They are hunting and breeding in the wild in the African bush in a remarkable scheme to save the most iconic sub-species of the magnificent Asian big cat from extinction.

A century ago there were 40,000 South China tigers roaming across a vast area of south-eastern China. Today the animal is extinct in the wild in China: only some fifty to sixty of these emblematic animals, widely believed to be the original “stock” from which all nine tiger sub-species evolved, survive in Chinese zoos.

Enter Li Quan, a rich and petite Chinese high-flying Gucci fashion executive, who persuaded the Chinese government to back her dream of reintroducing tigers to the wild in China after first retraining zoo animals in the art of hunting across 130 square miles of African bush.

Li Quan bought and game-fenced seventeen defunct sheep farms straddling the mighty Orange River in South Africa’s sparsely-populated Karoo, and named it Laohu Valley Reserve – valley of the tigers. Once the sheep-denuded vegetation and local prey animals had begun to recover, Beijing, in 2004, released from Shanghai Zoo four young South China tigers, including two who were rechristened Madonna and TigerWoods.

The initial task of getting the animals to behave like real wild tigers was tricky. They had been fed only chicken in their Chinese zoo and had only ever trodden on concrete. “They had never seen grass before and were reluctant to move from their trailers and put their paws into the dirt and grass of Africa,” said Li Quan.

They were put initially into an enclosure with guinea fowl and chickens as their practice prey. It took them time to understand that things that moved were their lunch.

But within four years huge breakthroughs had been made. The tigers were stalking and killing South African prey animals such as blesbok, kudu and springbok. Madonna and TigerWoods and others that arrived from China were ready to mate. In November 2007 the first South China tiger cub was born in the African wilderness.

Thirteen cubs have been born altogether, six in the past year, in Laohu. There have been setbacks. One tiger died of pneumonia and a cub was taken by one of Africa’s great predatory eagles. But the survival rate for the tigers is many times greater in the Karoo than in China’s zoos where it is believed about nine out of ten tiger cubs fail to survive.

Of course, it is little use to “re-wild” Chinese tigers in Africa if there are no wilderness areas with good populations of prey species for them back home. The Chinese government has identified four areas where reserves can be created in South China.

But the problems of creating reserves in such a densely populated country as China are immense. The reserves will have to be a minimum of 80 square miles in area. They will have to be fenced, restocked with local game and protected by armed rangers.

Chinese communities are notorious for using wild animal parts for medicine. Powerful criminal gangs are bound to try to target the new reserves. Li Quan and her supporters are, however, undeterred.

Scottish broadcaster and author Sue Armstrong will tell the story of the Chinese tigers in Africa in a two-part BBC Radio 4 series on Tuesday 28 February and 6 March at 11am, to be repeated at 9pm on 1 and 8 March.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/international/chinese_tigers_learn_to_hunt_under_an_african_sun_in_bid_to_save_species_1_2140695

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tiger Surgery - Big Cat Rescue


Modnic a female tiger who was rescued in 2007 from Savage Kingdom in Florida, undergoes surgery to remove cancerous tumors. (*Some graphic scenes of surgery are shown)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_IHMPVFyq8&list=UUcftblae5aEnraa34d1FPQg&feature=plcp




Monday, February 20, 2012

Pug marks confirm tiger in Saranda

B SridharB Sridhar, TNN Feb 21, 2012, 07.28AM IST

JAMSHEDPUR: Speculation over the presence of the big cat in the Saranda forest was put to rest,when the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, confirmed the presence of the tiger here recently. The divisional forest officer,K K Tiwary, however, clarified that the institute has not suggested the specific number of tigers. In its preliminary report, the institute confirmed the pug marks that were sent by the forest officials for examination last year.

"The preliminary report has confirmed the presence of a tiger in the Gua area of the forest cover but for further confirmation we need to have visual evidence," said Tiwary. In November last year, the forest department traced pug marks beside the carcass of a bison suggesting an attack by a tiger. Thereafter, the pug marks were collected using tracing paper and plaster of Paris and were sent to the Betla Project Tiger office for examination. "Betla officials sent the pug marks to Dehradun, which examined the evidences and confirmed the pug marks," said Tiwary.

Since then, the department has been on the lookout for evidence. "The possibility of tigers straying into the West Singhbhum area from Simplipal cannot be ruled out. So we need visual evidence before we confirm their resident status," said Tiwary.

He also said since November last there has been no report of animal casualty involving an attack by a tiger or tigress. Saranda, spread over 850 sq km, has about 1,000 cheetals, 300 sambars and 25 bisons, according to the last census. "Till a few decades ago, there were tigers in Saranda but over the years their number has declined," said a forest conservator, adding, "Saranda was home to wild boars, barking deer and antelope which suggest their predator's (tiger) presence nearby."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/Pug-marks-confirm-tiger-in-Saranda/articleshow/11972056.cms

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Tiger trackers get their due

Relief for cash-strapped Palamau park
A.S.R.P. MUKESH

Ranchi, Feb. 20: The weekend has proved lucky for striking trackers at Palamau Tiger Reserve currently in a no-pay-no-work mode, with the forest headquarters releasing partial funds in a bid to grant wages pending for seven months and the state deciding to gift cycles to each.

The 150 trackers at PTR had been on strike since February 9 to protest against the non-payment of their wages — Rs 125 a day for each — for all these months, which The Telegraph highlighted on Saturday in its report on the funds tangle that crippled the reserve.

In an overnight development, yesterday, the forest headquarters at Doranda released partial funds of around Rs 31 lakh to pay the wages. However, the core issue — why the state doesn’t bother to send the Centre a letter of utilisation of funds, which is why the tiger reserve is cash-strapped for years on end — has been left hanging.

The cheque, addressed to Palamau Tiger Reserve divisional forest officer Premjit Anand, could not be encashed today as banks were closed on Shivratri. Officials said that emergency funds were managed from other sources.

Chief conservator of forests (wildlife) A.K. Gupta confirmed the development. “Yes, funds have been released. It is a little over Rs 31 lakh. The cheque has been given to the divisional forest officer (Anand) and payments will take place once the bank reopens on Tuesday,” he said.

The strike is, therefore, expected to end in a couple of days.

Once it does, trackers — who walk more than 10km a day — can also expect cycles, thanks to the first-of-its-kind largesse of the state forest department, which earlier only doled out biscuits and canvas shoes.

This maiden experiment to increase the mobility of trackers and tiger protection force members has already started rolling with Saturday’s launch of a tendering process for branded cycle companies.

“We have decided to give them cycles with the twin objectives of boosting their morale and increasing their mobility,” Gupta told The Telegraph.

The cycles will be a more-than-welcome bonus in the coming summer months, giving the trackers the motivation to cover the reserve more thoroughly, even alternating between treks and pedals.

GPS devices and CCTV cameras will complement fieldwork for better monitoring.

However, what needs to be done is to get cracking on the bigger picture — ensuring that the Centre’s funds are not locked by state’s bureaucratic apathy — for smooth operations of the tiger abode that faces countless problems, animal and human.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120221/jsp/frontpage/story_15160297.jsp

http://www.bigcatrescue.org

'Toothless' regional tiger cell meets today

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN Feb 21, 2012, 06.11AM IST

NAGPUR: With time running out for tigers and wildlife in particular due to poaching and the shrinking habitat, the regional tiger cell will meet on Tuesday after a gap of nine months to address various issues.

PK Mahajan, deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) for Nagpur division and member-secretary of the cell, said this is the 12th meeting and will be held at 4.30 pm at Van Sabhagruha, Seminary Hills.

The meet will be chaired by special IGP Rajinder Singh. It will be attended by divisional forest officers (DFOs), MSEDCL officials and superintendents of police from Gondia, Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Chandrapur and Bhandara districts. Member-NGOs including Prafulla Bhamburkar of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Nitin Desai of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Harshawardhan Dhanwatey of Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT) and Kundan Hate have also been invited.

The regional tiger cell meeting should be held every three months but it's not been happening. The cell was formed in 2000. The last meeting was held on April 11, 2011.

Mahajan said the meeting could not be called early as the officials concerned were busy with recruitment of forest guards and later with the winter session of the state legislature followed by the zilla parishad, municipal council and corporation elections.

"We will approve the minutes of the last meeting and discuss strategy on wildlife protection and better coordination," Mahajan added.

Meanwhile, conservationists have expressed grave concern over lack of action on a host of decisions taken by the cell in the past. They want the cell to take issues seriously. "Such meets should not end up as mere tea sessions," a member felt.

The cell has failed to act on many decisions taken for wildlife protection including curbing and nailing culprits in illegal fishing in Pench, forming a special committee to look into skin seizure cases, preventive action against habitual offenders, operations against Baheliyas and checking 'musafir registers' with police patils.

In the last meeting it was decided that police station diaries will have a special column for wildlife crime and police personnel will take part in the tiger estimation exercise, but the decision remains only on paper.

"As the cell meetings are not held at regular intervals, every time a new Special IGP chairs the meet. This leads to a fresh discussion on issues," said one of the members.

They added that many wild animals continue to be poached for meat and body parts. The meat is openly sold in weekly markets in rural area but officials' action is not forthcoming. "These illegal activities only go to show that due to lack of coordination between the forest department, the police and NGOs, the results are nil. These cells have become clawless," moaned conservationists.

Decisions Only On Paper

* FDCM, which has a large forest area under its jurisdiction, not invited to meetings

* Decision on expert group of police and forest officials in vulnerable Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Gondia, Wardha, Amravati, Nagpur, Bhandara, Thane and Mumbai not taken

* Decision on secret funds hanging by fire

* No special cell for handling wildlife crime cases. Joint forest and MSEDCL teams too not formed
* Several tiger poaching cases in Chandrapur not reopened as promised by the then Spl IGP SB Sawarkar

* Police station diaries with special columns for wildlife crime pending. Cops too not part of the census exercise as decided

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Toothless-regional-tiger-cell-meets-today/articleshow/11971424.cms

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Two direct tiger sightings in Melghat during census

Vijay PinjarkarVijay Pinjarkar, TNN Feb 21, 2012, 06.27AM IST

NAGPUR: Tigers are always elusive in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), fondly called 'Kipling Country'. But two direct sightings during the nine-day Phase IV tiger estimation exercise has thrilled field staff and officials. This may be perhaps the first time such sightings have been recorded during the census.

The exercise on distance sampling to know density of ungulates through line transects concluded on Sunday. It started on February 10 and was conducted in over 6,250 beats in protected as well as non-protected areas in state, including tiger-bearing patches in Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). Now, exercise to know 'proportions of animals captured' with the help of camera traps will start in March and will continue for 45-60 days.

Melghat, known for its mystifying landscape with high hills and deep valleys, revealed clinching evidence of carnivores like pugmarks, scrapes and scent marks, scats etc. Field staff sighted a tiger on February 13 while walking on the transect line in Somthana range of Wan sanctuary (part of Melghat) and another tiger was seen near Semadoh on February 16. One direct tiger sighting has also been recorded in FDCM area of Chandrapur.

VK Sinha, chief conservator (CCF) & field director of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), says there could be more such records from TATR once data is compiled. The analysis of data will be done by researchers at the regional level. "Based on this data, camera traps will be installed," he added.

AK Mishra, CCF & field director of MTR, was overjoyed by the direct tiger sightings. He too admits that due to complex landscape and dense forest cover, sightings are rare. However, he said that tigers have occupied territories in all the three villages relocated a year ago.

"The exercise was done in 275 beats. With two pairs of cameras in each beat, we'll need 450 cameras from March 1. It will help us find the individual tiger numbers of the reserve," Mishra said.

The MTR documentation at different levels and data collected shows presence of around 50 tigers. However, in 2010, the monitoring of tigers, co-predators and prey as per the instructions of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India ( WII), Dehradun, revealed that MTR supports population of 39 tigers in 1,800 sq km.

In MTR's 230 sq km Dhargad range, comprising Gurgipati, Koktu, Kelpani, Bori, Boripati and Gullarghat, huge evidence of carnivore and herbivore presence was recorded. These dense forest patches are said to have half of MTR's tiger population. Regular sightings of bisons, chitals, sambars, and sloth bears were reported around transect lines here.

Field director AK Mishra, Akot deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) Vijay Godbole and ACF Pramod Panchabhai closely monitored the drive by walking on transect lines. Godbole says it is important to note that more animals in an area may not result in enhanced detection probability, since the latter is governed by terrain features, cover, visibility etc.

The 2010 tiger assessment involved three phases. This will be for the first time fourth phase will be added to the three phases. Across 41 tiger reserves, the 2010 assessment estimated 1,706 tigers (range between 1,571 and 1,875).

The Way Ahead

Camera traps at density of one pair per 4-5 sq km

Minimum trap nights of a 1,000 per 100 sq km (i.e. 25 pairs of cameras in 100 sq km for 40 days)

Minimum area coverage of 400 sq km

Closure period of 40 to 60 days

Entire reserve needs to be sampled

In case of larger reserves like MTR, the area will be covered by dividing into blocks for camera trapping

Two transects of 2-km length for each beat to be walked three times during each season. This protocol should be done for two seasons (summer and winter)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Two-direct-tiger-sightings-in-Melghat-during-census/articleshow/11971552.cms

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

RM170mil for tiger corridor

By ISABELLE LAI
Tuesday February 21, 2012

PETALING JAYA: The Government has allocated RM170mil to build wildlife-friendly viaducts that are vital in linking fragmented tiger populations and reducing conflict with humans, said Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.

He said these included viaducts along the East-West Highway in Perak costing RM60mil in addition to earlier approved projects in Terengganu and Pahang costing RM110mil.

The viaducts will allow safe passage across highways for wildlife, including tigers and elephants, between conservation corridors such as the Greater Taman Negara and Belum-Temengor Priority Tiger Landscape.

“This is an ambitious yet strong commitment from the Government to strive to double the wild tiger population by 2022,” he said in his speech before launching the Cross-Sectoral Executive Leadership Forum on Mainstreaming Tiger Habitats here yesterday.

Despite the high cost, Kurup said it was possible to build these viaducts through early intervention during the planning stage of infrastructure development.

He said Malaysia would continue to ensure tiger conservation efforts were part of mainstream state and district-level programmes through its Central Forest Spine master plan and National Tiger Conservation Action Plan.

Malaysia was one of 13 countries that took part in the International Tiger Summit in 2010 in St Petersburg, Russia, to address the threat of tiger extinction and highlight the animals as the face of biodiversity.

Keshav Varma, the World Bank programme director for the Global Tiger Initiative, said the Malaysian Government had been “extremely forward-looking” in finding a balance between using its natural resources and protecting wildlife, including accommodating the needs of tigers and other species amid development.

“If the Malaysian model is adopted, the future prospects for tigers and other species could improve markedly,” he said.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute director Steven Montfort said tiger conservation could be achieved by working together with all parties involved.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/2/21/nation/10758932&sec=nation

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NEVER TRUST A TIGER


A TIGER ROAR is a stark reminder that these animals are still very much wild despite living in captivity. The fact is that big cats like tigers and lions will never make good pets. Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGyt_pt0igw&list=UUcftblae5aEnraa34d1FPQg&index=1&feature=plpp_video


Friday, February 10, 2012

Tourist sights tiger near Perunkundru hills

A tiger spotted by a tourist at Kadavusathi area in Anamalai Tiger Reserve near Top Slip.

February 10, 2012

Officials confirm presence of tiger in the area

An auditor from Pollachi, Vivek, who was on tour to Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in the second week of January, sighted a tiger near Kadhavu Saathi near Perunkundru hills.

Vivek has furnished a photograph of a full-grown tiger, presumably a male.

ATR officials released the picture on Thursday and confirmed the tiger's presence in the area.

Top Slip Range Officer V.A. Saravanan said the place where the big cat was found was a high altitude area near Nerkundru, accessible from Ambuli rest house and Kozhikamudhi where the department had a camp for tamed/trained kumki elephants.

Even by conservative estimates, ATR, which lies closer to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, is estimated to have 15 tigers. The figures were arrived at on the basis of the previous census findings.

In December too a tiger was found in the sanctuary area. Cameras set up by ATR also had captured a few tigers.

However, a tiger in flesh and blood was a sight to behold, Mr. Saravanan said.

Beginning Friday, the ATR officials are embarking on a census to enumerate the tiger population, other predators and assess their prey density.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/article2878570.ece

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

WWF Finds U.S. Grocery Retailers Stocking Toilet Paper Linked To Rain Forest Destruction

New report highlights several retailers that have already dropped Paseo products, made from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) fiber.

Washington DC (PRWEB) February 08, 2012

American companies and consumers are inadvertently contributing to Indonesian rain forest and tiger habitat destruction by buying toilet paper and other tissue products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), according to a World Wildlife Fund report released today.

Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets, and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats finds that APP, the fifth-largest tissue producer in the world, is rapidly expanding into the U.S. market with paper linked to rain forest destruction, originating from areas that are the last home for critically endangered species such as Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans.

Products made with APP fiber, such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissue, are increasingly landing in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hotels across the country under the Paseo and Livi brand names.

Eight large retailers – BI-LO, Brookshire Grocery Company, Delhaize Group (owner of Food Lion chain), Harris Teeter, Kmart, Kroger, SUPERVALU, and Weis Markets – have decided to stop carrying tissue products made with APP fiber during the last several months.

“We applaud the decision by these companies to remove these products from their stores,” said Jan Vertefeuille, head of WWF’s Tiger Campaign.

Since it began operating in Indonesia in 1984, WWF estimates that APP and its affiliates have pulped nearly 5 million acres of tropical forest on the island of Sumatra, which equals an area roughly the size of 4 million football fields or larger than the state of Massachusetts.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between tigers and toilet paper,” said Linda Kramme, a WWF forest expert. “We’re asking retailers, wholesalers and consumers not to buy Paseo or Livi products until APP stops clearing rain forests in Sumatra.”

Fastest-growing toilet paper brand in the U.S.

APP distributes its tissue, paper and paper-based packaging products through a number of North American-based subsidiaries and affiliates, including Solaris Paper, Mercury Paper, Paper Excellence, Global Paper Solutions, and Eagle Ridge Paper.

In recent years, APP has greatly expanded into the U.S. tissue market, including through Paseo and Livi tissue products. Oasis Brands, which markets Paseo, announced in 2011 that Paseo had become the fastest-growing brand of toilet paper in the U.S. Paseo and Livi are also marketed as "away-from-home" products used in public restrooms in restaurants, office buildings, schools and hotels.

“More than 50 percent of shoppers say they consider sustainability when they shop, but Americans may not be aware that products used every day, like paper and tissue, can be linked to devastating impacts on forests in faraway places,” the report states.

To produce the report, WWF researched Paseo sales to U.S. grocery chains and found Paseo products being carried in grocery chains across the country in 2011. WWF contacted 20 grocers sourcing the largest amounts of Paseo to make them aware of Paseo's link to rain forest destruction.

The 12 companies identified and contacted, but that did not respond or commit to stopping Paseo sales, are:

Albertsons LLC
Giant Eagle
Hy-Vee
IGA
Ingles
K-VA-T (sold at Food City)
Lowes Food Stores
Marsh
Price Chopper
Roundy’s (sold at Roundy's, Pick'n Save, Rainbow and Copps)
Save Mart
Spartan

“We urge companies to be responsible stewards of the planet and stop carrying Paseo products until APP stops clearing rain forest,” Kramme said.

Trying to improve the pulp and paper sector

Paseo is produced with pulp from APP, a subsidiary of China-based Sinar Mas Group and one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies. APP owns two pulp mills on the Indonesian island of Sumatra – one of them among the world’s largest – and is responsible for more deforestation in Sumatra than any other company, according to field investigations, government data and satellite imagery.

The research into APP and its Paseo and Livi tissue paper brands is part of efforts by WWF to encourage a more responsible pulp and paper sector, specifically by addressing the increase in the United States of pulp and paper products produced with rain forest fiber or from plantation fiber from converted rain forest.

WWF is working to ensure that North American paper sourcing no longer negatively impacts Indonesian natural forests and instead drives demand for paper from responsibly developed and managed Indonesian plantations. WWF also is working with other Indonesian pulp and paper producers willing to adopt better practices to bring more options to the marketplace.

Many responsible companies are already showing leadership. One of the easiest ways that companies and consumers can help is by buying tissue products made with fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or 100 percent recycled fiber to ensure they aren’t contributing to forest destruction, and urging retailers to stop selling brands linked to destructive practices.

To download the report and learn more about WWF’s tissue campaign, please visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/tp.




ABOUT WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/ to learn more.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9176718.htm

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Crackdown on tiger poachers, 11 held

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 09, 2012

A network of tiger poachers spanning across four states has been unearthed with the arrest of eleven members of three gangs in the last fortnight. Skin of eight leopard and tigers and five kilogram of bones have been seized from them. Their claim of killing eight to ten tigers in less than six months, which is about 40 percent of poaching incidents big cat deaths during the period, has caused panic.

"Their claim is alarming and we are verifying it," said a senior Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) official. About 18 tiger deaths, of which five were killed this January, have been reported in last one year.

Rise in tiger population from 1,411 to 1,706 in less than a year has pushed the big cats to the protected core areas, thereby making them vulnerable to poaching.

The WCCB officers arrested Dharambir and his four accomplices on Thursday from Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh, and seized skin of four leopards and one tiger.

The animals were apparently killed with the help of iron traps in Corbett Tiger Reserve and Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand.

They have claimed to have transported two consignments to an wildlife dealer in Delhi, identified as Lavi Singh. They were caught with animal parts in Haridwar.

WCCB officials believe that the consignment was meant for sale in the international market. Belinda Wright of NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India said the price of tiger parts has increased manifold in the international market. We have seen a sudden spurt in demand in the last few weeks which may be the cause of increase in poaching and seizures," she said.

The WCCB probe has confirmed Wright's apprehension after the arrest of a person and the seizure of tiger skin by customs officials in Siliguri, West Bengal. The probe has revealed that tigers were killed in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh also.

The WCCB has been able to establish the links with Siliguri seizure with the network of poachers in these three states.

The officials are also trying to link the arrest of five persons in Kerala and the recovery of a leopard and tiger skin from them with international wildlife smugglers.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/National-network-of-tiger-poachers-busted/Article1-809187.aspx

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/