Sunday, September 06, 2009

Wildlife bureau likely to probe tiger killing

Wildlife bureau likely to probe tiger killing

TNN 7 September 2009, 02:32am IST

PANAJI: More than three months after the forest department officials achieved a breakthrough in the tiger killing case at Keri, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has shown interest in the case and a top official is likely to arrive in Goa later this month to investigate it.

At present, the investigations have been kept in abeyance as the department is awaiting confirmatory tests of bones and other remains found at Keri, which had been sent to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun three months back.

Piqued over Goa forest department's alleged laxity in handling the case of tiger poaching, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had gone on record saying that it was the deputy conservator of forests, Dandeli Hanshi range in Karnataka who first reported the incident about the tiger killed in Goa.

Sources said that the WCCB will commence the investigations soon. However, it was not known whether it would be an independent probe or if WCCB will join hands with the forest department.

However, when the chief conservator of forests Shashi Kumar was contacted on this, he said, "I am not aware of any such development. If they are interested in taking up the case we will fully co-operate with them. After all, we both work for the same cause."

"Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has powers to investigate any case independently," a forest department official said, adding that the nature of the investigation depends on the circumstances or the stand taken by the bureau. "If they want to carry out the probe independently, they may not disclose anything to the department, but may still take some assistance from us."

It may be recalled that the state forest department is probing the tiger killing case reported at Keri village in Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in which the animal was trapped and later shot dead allegedly by the villagers. In this connection, the forest department is yet to recover a mobile handset which is believed to contain information in the case while, a computer hard disk has been seized to verify facts and gather vital information to lead the investigation into the case in the right direction.

A forest official has said on conditions of anonymity that "the cellphone of an accused had been used to shoot the entire episode of the tiger killing and not just the photo of the tiger." The officer further said "the information could have been shared even by the friends of the accused and the original mobile handset could have been destroyed."

It may be recalled that two persons, including a former listed poacher, had been arrested in connection with the poaching, but are presently out on bail.

Incidentally, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy had recently raised the issue of having stringent laws and a prudent investigating agency while specifically highlighting the tiger death case in Goa in the Lok Sabha.

"Do we have plans of getting in a central legislation which could provide for a stricter punishment to the poachers and those who indulge in this. Laws are not good enough at this point in time to punish them. Do you have something like this in mind? That is important. Recently, about two weeks ago (question raised in July), one tiger was killed in Goa. Do you have something like this? That is important", questioned Rudy.

Replying to this question, Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh said, "This is a very large issue. But I want to take the house into confidence. Separately, I am seeking approval of the cabinet. We have already floated a proposal for the approval of the cabinet for setting up a National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT is going to be an environmental court which is going to hear all cases relating to violation of laws dealing with environment and forests. I am glad that the attorney-general has supported this proposal. This is a recommendation of the 186{+t}{+h} Report of Law Commission. We have adequate support of the judiciary."

Incidentally, once this body is in place, the tribunal is expected to address some major issues like the delays in prosecution, the delays in registering of cases and so on.

Ramesh has also gone on record stating, "if the Act requires to be redone, I am quite willing to have a look at the Act." When TOI contacted the CCF to confirm if there was any discussion on the tiger death case, he said, "No, there was no discussion between us. However, if there has been any discussion between him and the minister (Felipe Neri) I am not aware of."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/goa/Wildlife-bureau-likely-to-probe-tiger-killing/articleshow/4979395.cms

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

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