Centre sounds red alert in tiger reserves
Kishalay Bhattacharjee, Sidharth Pandey
Thursday, February 05, 2009 (Kaziranga, New Delhi)
A red alert has been declared across 17 states over tiger populations. The alert comes in the wake of the poaching and deaths of at least 10 tigers in the past three months in different national parks in the country.
Tiger bones were found buried in Kaziranga's Agratoli range just days ago, alongside vials of Thyodine used to poison animals. They were hard evidence that poachers are now targetting tigers as well.
In the past three months, eight tigers were killed or found dead in Kaziranga. And it is not just Kaziranga that is in trouble.
In Kanha, four to five tigers are believed to have been killed or found dead in the past one year. In Panna, conservationists are sceptical if any of the tigers are left alive in the National Park. And in January, a tiger skin was found in the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
The Centre is not taking this lightly and has issued a red alert to 17 states with sizeable tiger populations.
"We have also passed on intelligence and information to the states about the poachers and have asked them to take steps to be vigilant," said Dr Rajesh Gopal, director, Project Tiger.
The Centre has also asked the states to activate recruitment for the tiger protection force which will be deployed in the sensitive zones for which the Centre will pay the costs.
"The problem is that in states, the local leaders, MLAs etc put pressure on the officials who are doing their work and get the poachers released," said Belinda Wright, tiger conservationist.
India is home to half the tigers in the world, but increasingly, it has been under attack from poachers and a shrinking habitat. This could well be where it makes its last stand.