Tiger corpse found at Keri
13 Apr 2009, 0431 hrs IST, Rajendra P Kerkar
KERI: Does Goa have tigers? Environmentalists and government officials say there is evidence to prove there are. Yet, two months ago a national environment magazine, quoting a census conducted by a private firm, said Panthera Tigris had left no footprint in Goa. Ditto for a state government census in 2005. "Officially, no tigers have been recorded in Goa," says chief conservator of forests, Shashikumar.
Yet, in the last week of February this year, the corpse of an allegedly trapped and killed tiger was found in Keri village in Sattari taluka. Villagers, speaking on condition of anonymity, told TOI that the animal was roaming around human settlements and had unnerved residents enough for someone to lay a trap.
When contacted, Tulsidas Wadkar, range forest officer, Keri range, said, "I am not aware about the killed tiger, but I have received a report that recently a tiger killed a Sambhar deer (Cervous unicolor) at Madyat near the Anjunem Irrigation Project in Sattari taluka."
CCF Shashikumar, when told about the killed tiger, said, "If proper clues are given to the forest department with regards to the spot where the tiger's killing took place, we will do all that is needed to unearth the truth. As far as we know, there is no official evidence to suggest tiger presence in Goa's forests these days."
Naturalist, Pankaj Lad, however, disagrees. Working in the lush Mhadei wildlife sanctuary region for over a decade now, Lad says, "The Chorla ghat forest is the finest tiger habitat. It needs to be protected, or else we will lose our wildlife, like tigers, forever." He points to the recent killing of a leopard, allegedly by poisoning, in the Chorla ghat area. "The irrigation project and the ghat connecting Panaji to Belgaum, have led to an increase in conflict between man and animal. There needs to be an effort to protect our wildlife."
Incidentally, forest department officials, unwilling to come on record, say the state has at least four tigers, but they are not on record. "We receive information of tiger spottings time and again and ideally, the 208 sq km Mhadei wildlife sanctuary should be brought under the national-level Project Tiger. It would mean blanket protection to wildlife in the region," said sources.