Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Indian state plans special tiger unit to check poaching

Sunday 22nd of July 2007

Rajasthan will soon set up a special cell comprising policemen and forest officials to ensure the security of tigers in the state, especially in the Ranthambore and Sariska sanctuaries.

'We have decided to set up a tiger cell and the process will start soon,' Forest Minister L.N. Dave told IANS.

He said the cell would work on the lines of an intelligence bureau, tracking poachers and maintaining a record. The team will comprise a deputy superintendent of police, a forest range officer and other forest department officials.

Apart from checking poaching, the cell would investigate people considered as possible threats to the animal.

The need to set up a separate cell for the safety of tigers was felt because poachers increasingly have been found to have links with international networks that smuggle animal parts.

The state government has come under severe criticism over the disappearance of tigers from the Sariska reserve.

While an official census in 2004 had indicated that 16 to 18 tigers lived in Sariska, by the middle of the year no tigers could be seen. Other animals such as panthers have also been targeted.

Now there are plans to relocate tigers from the Ranthambore National Park, home to 32 tigers, to Sariska, Dave revealed.

The tiger population in India has dwindled over the years. In its partial tiger report released earlier this year, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said there were only 490 tigers in 16 reserves of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. The 2002 census had recorded 1,233 tigers in these states.


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