Union forest minister Prakash Javadekar has sought a report from Uttarakhand on seizure of five tiger pelts from Haridwar.
Earlier this week, a police Special Task Force reported its biggest haul of tiger pelts in Uttarakhand and arrested a nomad who has reportedly confessed to killing the animals in the Sona Nadi Wildlife Sanctuary, which is Corbett Tiger Reserve’s buffer zone. In 2015, Uttarakhand, which has around 340 tigers, recorded the fourth highest number of tiger deaths in the country — seven.
“Union minister has talked to the chief minister about the seizure and needs the report of the investigation,” said Rajinder Kumar Mahajan, the principal chief conservator of forest and Head of Forest force.
Rawat is scheduled to meet forest officers late on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, the union minister had sent several reminders to the state government to set up a Special Tiger Protection Force, a dedicated force for protecting tigers and bringing down human-animal conflict. But the authorities have been holding it up — due to reservation in allowing forest dwellers to be roped in to guard forest and allowing forest guards to shoot poachers in defence.
Abhishekh Kumar, an India representative of TRAFFIC, wildlife trade monitoring network, said: “If poaching is reported in Corbett, then it means no tiger in Uttarakhand is safe”. “They haven’t been able to form the STPF till date, despite the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s repeated reminders,” he said.
The Corbett management has declared a red alert across the reserve.
“We are conducting intensive combing to get leads,” Corbett director Samir Sinha said.