The nature-lovers and environmentalists in and around the region are up in arms against the entry of a tiger cage at Maharajbagh zoo in Nagpur by the Guardian minister of Nagpur district and Maharashtra Agriculture minister, Balasaheb Thorat on Saturday evening.
It was said that the minister had arrived at the Maharajbagh zoo that was being run by the Agriculture College on Saturday at 2.30 pm. The enthusiastic Agriculture College officials reportedly invited the minister to have a close look of the new tiger that was brought at the zoo from Chandrapur forest, a few months back.
The minister immediately agreed and entered the tiger cage, violating all the existing norms of the Central Zoo Authority. Moreover, the minister entered there along with his armed security guards and the city Congress president Jaiprakash Gupta.
All of them, particularly the minister, were caressing and patting the one-year old big cat for over five minutes. The tiger cub was brought from Chandrapur by the forest personnel, along with two other cubs, when their mother went missing in Junona forest, adjoining Tadoba Tiger Reserves, five months ago.
“The attempt of the minister was very dangerous. The tiger could have mauled him and that could have led to his security personnel for retaliation,” says Kishore Rithe, a well-known conservationist and secretary of Satpuda Foundation.
He also expressed his anguish over the trend among ministers that they were above the laws and often acted on whims and fancies. “Earlier, a powerful Maharashtra minister had entered the famous Tadoba Tiger reserves in Chandrapur, along with his staff at night, violating the forest and wildlife conservation acts.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra forest minister Babanrao Pachpute ordered an inquiry to probe the matter. The conservator of forests (CF), Nagpur, N Rambabu will investigate the matter and send a report to the ministry within a week. Rambabu admitted that his department got an instruction in this regard from the minister on Sunday evening.
“If there is a case of teasing of the wildlife animal, a case can be registered against the minister and others who entered the cage,” informs a senior state wildlife official, who preferred to anonymity.
Talking to Hindustan Times, the Agriculture minister Thorat, however, maintained that it was a small issue and the matter was blown up out of proportion. “My department runs the Maharajbagh Zoo at Nagpur and being the minister of the department I visited and entered the cage to take a look of the wildlife there,” he justified.
The Forest minister Pachpute was not available for comments.