BENGALURU: The brutal killing of an adult male tiger on August 12 in Bandipur Tiger Reserve points to a clear cut case of poaching, say wildlife conservationists from this area.
They say that the continuing delay in investigations and tardy progress, in fact, raises many questions as lax and ineffective patrolling measures which led to the tiger’s killing, demonstrates total inaction on the part of the Forest Department.
A conservationist associated with a wildlife group in this area said, “They are sitting on the case, absolutely indecisive and clueless. By this time, they should have formed teams and nabbed the suspects. Inaction even after 10 days and inexplicable silence on the part of the District Conservator does not inspire any confidence about the future protection of our national animal.”
This is the first time that a big cat has been killed in this manner despite a special tiger protection force (STPF) in place.
Representatives of some NGOs connected with wildlife conservation said, “Looking at the field evidence, it looks like a planned event and there is no doubt of their intention to kill the tiger. The STPF is based just four kilometres away in Maddur while an anti-poaching camp (APC) is nearby the killing spot. Usually the APC personnel are either drunk or sleeping. They neither keep a vigil nor follow leads left by offenders and because of this, we have lost one more tiger.”
Supporting the contention that the tiger’s death was caused by poachers, Naveen Kumar, the honorary wildlife warden of Chamrajnagar district, who reached the spot on August 14 and was involved in collection of field evidence on that day said, “It is a case of poaching. But irrespective of whether their target was a herbivore or otherwise is no consequence because the tiger has been clearly shot dead. Therefore, now they should be deemed as tiger poachers.”
Bandipur Tiger Reserve Director T Heeralal told Express, “We are awaiting the report.”
Lax security measures
The 874-square-kilometre reserve has over 115 tigers and it has several anti-poaching camps as well as the 115-strong STPF. It is reported that the STPF had detected a case of Sambhar poaching just a few days before the tiger killing incident, a wildlife activist said. “The STPF would have a fair idea of the probable offenders in the nearby villages. Such suspects should have been arrested immediately and be subjected to vigorous inquiry about the possible involvement of locals. In fact, there is 100 per cent information coming out from nearby villages of poaching of sambar, deer and other herbivores. How does it stop them from progressing to big cats with support and links to gangs from north India?” he said. To this Naveen Kumar adds, “With an anti-poaching camp located barely three fourths of a kilometre away, how did they not hear the gun shot in the stillness of the forest night. Further, they have also failed in detecting the fire at three places as also the hideout which the poachers had made to commit this offence. Therfore, I demand that stringent action be initiated against all the lax staff of the reserve involved in patrolling duties.” To this, the Tiger Reserve Director said, “We have 114 personnel of STPF in place at two camps. I have also asked all Range Forest Officers to take stringent measures. We have also intensified our regular patrolling.”