Despite the special task force (STF) launching a drive against poachers active in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, located on India-Nepal border, a sudden fall in tiger population in the forest area has left wildlife conservationists and tiger lovers bewildered.
While the last count, carried out in 2010, registered 43 tigers, the latest tiger census released in January showed the number of tigers in Pilibhit forest reserve area dwindling to 27.
The minister of state for khadi and rural industry, Riyaz Ahmed, wrote to the chief minister asking for inquiry into the fall in the tiger count. Talking to HT, Ahmed, who represents Pilibhit seat in legislative assembly, said, “The latest tiger census shows that the country has registered an increase of 30% in tiger population in the past three years. While tiger count has increased in wild life sanctuaries and tiger reserves across UP, it has dipped in Pilibhit.”
On January 24, the STF team led by assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Dr Arvind Chaturvedi busted a gang of tiger poachers in Pilibhit. Six poachers were taken into custody and tiger bones, teeth and meat were recovered from their possession.
“Geographical location of Pilibhit has converted it into a prized destination for poachers. After making the kill, poachers carry the tiger organ across the border from where it is transported to China,” Chaturvedi said.
During investigation, STF found that rather than making the kill through trap or electrocution, the poachers preferred to poison the tigers.