Tiger skin seizure: Rawat orders fresh probe into last year’s casedehradun Updated: Apr 19, 2017 20:50 IST
Uttarakhand has one of the highest tiger populations in India.(HT File Photo)
DEHRADUN: Forest minister Harak Singh Rawat has ordered a fresh probe in the last year’s seizure of five tiger skins and 125 kg bones in Haridwar forest division, after a report suggested poor investigation by foresters.
Rawat directed head of forest force RK Mahajan to investigate and submit a report within one month. He ordered camera traps be installed again.
After Rajeev Mehta of ‘The Eye of the Tiger Trust’ submitted a report, the minister admitted efforts made by the forest department to investigate the case were weak. “Five skins and 120 kg tiger bones were seized which proves that many more tigers were killed. I have ordered investigation and asked them to reinstall camera traps of Wildlife Institute of India (WII),” he told Hindustan Times on Wednesday.
Ram Chander alias Chander, who was caught with the consignment of tiger skins and bones, reportedly told the police that he along with Mukhtiyar and Ram Bhagat killed two tigers in Kotdwar. Another three were killed in the same area. The accused told interrogators that the skins and bones were kept hidden in trenches in Kothkadar in Uttar Pradesh. Later, two more were arrested in the case
Mehta accused forest officers of not carrying out a transparent investigation. “I was a part of the investigation. At Kothkadar, we found 32 trenches, bones, flesh, and blood-stained clothes. All these items were taken by the chief wildlife warden and the Corbett director, but were not handed over to the police for investigation,” he said.
Dry bones of a tiger weigh between 15 kg and 17 kg. Therefore, the consignment of 125 kg bones means that more than seven tigers were killed, Mehta said.
Later, a tiger skin and 24 kg bones were seized from Raiwala. After WII confirmed that four of the five skins were of tigers once photographed in Corbett, the forest department stopped association with the institute, sources said. “The department tried to cover up the episode even as the then union forest minister Prakash Javedakar wrote to the government to take cognizance of the matter,” Mehta said.
“Why is he questioning the investigation after a year now? He attended two State Board for Wildlife meetings after this incident and never did he raised this agenda before us,” chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati said. Mahajan said he was travelling. “We will conduct a transparent investigation and will take action accordingly,” he added.