Tigers continue to be poached in Uttarakhand forests in the absence of a modern intelligence network and quick response teams at porous borders through which poachers sneak in, kill the animal and escape with its skin and bones, wildlife experts said on Wednesday.
In the last one year, Uttarakhand has lost seven tigers, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) figures and most of the incidents were reported from the adjoining forest areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR), which also shares its boundary with Uttar Pradesh.
Wildlife experts said the forest department had a few officials in the name of wildlife intelligence who largely depended on non-government agencies and villagers for intelligence inputs and preventive steps.
However, considering the demographical location of the Uttarakhand tiger reserves, the forest department should be equipped with modern intelligence gadgets to check poaching and monitor activities across borders, they said. Small-size drones, night-vision CCTVs, infiltration detection radars and attack alert alarms on animals are immediately required to put a check on poaching activities, they suggested.
State forest minister Dinesh Agarwal admitted that there was need to strengthen the network of intelligence and anti-poaching cells. “I have talked to a few officers in this regard,” he said, assuring effective steps in this direction soon.
Head of forest force (HoFF) Veena Sekhari said a proposal for animal protection cells had long been submitted to the state government. “We already have a chief conservator of forest (CCF) wildlife and intelligence who is working in association with divisional forest officers across state (as far as wildlife intelligence is concerned) . However, deployment of two wildlife wardens in Kumaon and Grahwal each with further staff is demanded,” Sekhari said.
Abhishekh Kumar of Traffic India non-government organisation said the intelligence should be in-depth with anti-poaching cells and a large network of informers.
Tigers dead and alive
The first tiger death was reported on February 25 from the Terai East forest division in Khatima range of US Nagar district. This place borders Uttar Pradesh as well as the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
On May 6 and June 13, two tiger deaths were reported from Ramnagar, which falls in the buffer zone of Corbett Tiger Reserve. On October 6, a tiger death was reported from Jhirna range of the reserve, which was followed by another incident in Bijnore on November 11. This place also falls in the buffer zone. Another tiger was found dead in Kalagarh range of the tiger reserve.
On December 15, a tiger skin was seized from Haldwani which according to official website of the NTCA is the first tiger seizure of state this year.
According to the All India Tiger Estimation of 2010, Uttarakhand had 227 tigers which swelled to 340 in 2014, showing an increase of 113 tigers.
Seizures across India
Jan 24: Pilibhit (UP): Tiger bone 300 gm and 17 kg flesh, tiger skins
Jan 24: Pilibhit: Tiger 2 canines, 4.5 kg bones, tiger skins
March 25: Simplipal (Orissa) tiger skins, bones
September 27: Seoni, Pench (MP): Tiger teeth, tiger’s decomposed flesh, tiger bones
October 14: Karbi Anglong, Kaziranga (Asaam): Tiger bones, tiger skins
October 17: Satpura Chhindwara, Satpura (MP): Tiger oil and skin
November 1: South Kondgaon (Chhatisgarh): Tiger skins
December 15: Haldwani (Uttarakhand): Tiger skin
(Courtesy: NTCA website)