Poached tiger mystery deepens further in Goa

May 1st, 2009 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 1 (IANS) The mystery of a poached tiger in the dense Sattari wildlife sanctuary has deepened further, with the chief conservator of forests claiming that there was no ‘evidence’ to show that any tiger was killed in the forest reserve.
A photograph of the dead beast with a bloodied, fatal slash running horizontally from its rear torso, was published in a section of the media by noted wildlife conservationist Rajendra Kerkar, who had said that the animal had died after it was caught in a steel trap, set by poachers.

However, the chief conservator of forests (CCF) Shashi Kumar told IANS that the department had still not seen any photograph of the dead tiger yet.

“We have been trying to enquire as to who has clicked the photograph. But we are unable to get to the person who took the picture,” Dr Kumar said, adding that there was no clue to show that a tiger had indeed been killed in the Sattari wildlife sanctuary.

“We have not found the site where the tiger was supposed to have been killed. We have not yet been able to join the loose ends in this case,” he added.

Interestingly, Kumar’s statements are in stark contrast to reports which appeared in a section of the media, quoting range forest officer Paresh Parab saying that the forest department had traced some tiger bones, which were sent to the Central Forensic Laboratory in Hyderabad for analysis.

Parab is a part of a forest department’s crack team, which has been deployed to probe the mystery of the dead tiger. However, the forest department’s probe into the alleged tiger killing episode itself appears lethargic.

The range forest officer investigating the incident has not even sought police custody of the poacher Gopal Majik, who was arrested in connection with the tiger poaching case. In a remand application filed before a local magistrate, the forest department has asked for judicial custody of the accused.

Majik is a known poacher from Sattari, who was arrested by the forest department earlier for killing a sambhar in the same forest.

Wildlife conservationists allege that the forest department had been working overtime to ensure that wildlife sanctuaries in Goa do not officially record the presence of a resident tiger.

“The forest department is under tremendous pressure from political as well as the mining lobby not to formally acknowledge the presence of a resident tiger in Goa’s forest,” a wildlife conservationist said. A resident tiger is one which has made a particular habitat its home, as opposed to a transiting tiger, which merely uses a particular territory as a migratory corridor.

“Acknowledging the presence of a resident tiger in the Sattari wildlife sanctuary would automatically ensure that the area would be classified as a tiger reserve, which means mining in the area would be threatened,” the conservationist said.

Mining of low grade iron ore and manganese in the Goan hinterland is a major industry in Goa. Nearly 100 mines are operational in the forested regions of Goa, which extract and export about 30 million tonnes of ore annually.

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