Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 29, 2011
Uttarakhand government is in dock for pumping over 25 bullets in a tiger at Corbett national park with environment minister Jairam Ramesh seeking a report and BJP MP from the state Tarun Vijay expressing "displeasure". A tiger, declared as man-eater, was killed near Sunder Khat village on January 27, in a second encounter after being shot about 16 days ago. In between, no effort was made to track down the elderly tiger and tranquilize him, as required under the National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines.
"I have sought a report on the incident," Ramesh told HT, when asked about the concern expressed by wildlife experts over the barbaric manner in which the tiger was killed.
P K Sen, a NCTA member and former director of Project Tiger said, no effort was made to understand why the animal had turned man-eater and tranquilize him. A tiger in Pilibhit range, who had killed eight people in 2010, had stopped attacking humans after returning to his natural habitat. The World Wide Fund for nature had tracked the entire journey on 20 cameras put in the range.
"The drastic act Corbett was under political and local pressure," Sen said, which was confirmed to some extent by S Chondolia, Chief Wildlife Warden of the state. "The victims were from poor families and disadvantaged. We could not have allowed it to continue," Chondolia told HT.
But, BJP Rajya Sabha member Tarun Vijay had branded these 342 families as encroachers on land for tigers, which the state government had failed to vacate. "The Corbett was not about man-animal conflict but human selfishness and greed in conflict with peace-loving and solitude-seeking tigers," he said on Friday.
Tiger experts also pointed out that the killing took place with the help of experts and the animal was left in pain for over 15 days. "The first bullet on January 11 had damaged the testicles of the animal but no effort was made to end the agony fast," said Brijendra Singh, an NCTA member. No specialized hunters were called and forest department guards shot the tiger.
Ramesh has asked NCTA member secretary Rajesh Gopal to conduct an inquiry and submit a report after experts said that the authorities protocol was not followed while killing the animal.
"Section 11 of the Wildlife Protection Act gives power to the Chief Wildlife Warden to declare an animal a beast and destroy it," Chandolia said, claiming that the NCTA guidelines for fully followed.
Man-animal conflict is in rise in Uttarakhand where tiger population is believed to have increased by about 15% since the last census in 2007 and their habitat shrunk. "Our maps show that corridors which helped tigers to move from one habitat to another and their buffer areas have either been destroyed or encroached," said a ministry official.