Even as the ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) itself is questioning the claim of 1,411 tigers in India as
March 2009 - Kerkar gets tipped off about tiger killing in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary.
April 2009 - He obtains photographs of the killing from his sources. A news report and photograph is published by him in a leading national daily about the tiger poaching. Following the report, the forest department begins investigation.
January 2010 - Kerkar named as an abettor in the crime by forest department officials when he only reported the incident to the concerned authorities.
February 2010 - Forensic report released by WII confirms tiger had been killed. Public meeting held by leading environmentalists in support of Kerkar, ask for Mhadei to Bhimgarh be declared tiger reserve, mining activities be looked into.
To begin with, in the last official tiger census done in 2005-06, according to Qamar Qureshi of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) under the MoEF, population estimation of tigers wasn't even carried out in the state. In that case, it won't be reflected in the current national census figure. This follows in the wake of the famous tiger poaching case from Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in north Goa last year, in which noted environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar (general secretary of Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan for over 30 years) who brought the case to light was later named as an abettor in the crime by the state's forest department, who first tried to cover up the matter saying there were no tigers in Goa. "I was intimidated to reveal my sources and told that my computer would be seized. But I gave them all the information in writing as to how I learnt of the tiger killing," says Kerkar. The case was sent for investigation and the forensic report released last week confirmed that a tiger had been killed when one out of the seven samples matched the tiger's. Confirming this, the water resources and forest minister of Goa, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, says, "We have received the final report from WII in which one of the samples matches the tiger. Based on this, we will proceed to file a chargesheet against the killers. Such incidents should not happen in Goa. Many NGOs are also suggesting that there may be more than 1, 411 tigers in India."
At a public meeting held last week in support of Kelkar, amongst those rallying for the area between Mhadei and Bhimgarh to be declared as a tiger reserve Claude Alvares of the Goa Foundation said, "Look at the many places in Goa named after tigers. The official census doesn't show any tigers from Goa when this is a tiger place. The tiger-poaching incident itself reflects that, which means the national count of 1, 411 tigers goes up. The forest department seems to be more concerned with conserving mining in the area than conserving wildlife." Added UK-based activist Carmen Miranda (sister of well-known Goa-based cartoonist Mario Miranda) who's part of the long standing Save 'The Western Ghats' campaign that it was important to transform mining in Goa where it was made 'sustainable'. Rama Velip, resident of Keri village, condemning the action of the forest department said "they say there are no tigers in Goa, that's not true. Displaced by mining these tigers come to our villages and kill local cattle."
Kerkar claims that according to his field work a tigress and a cub remain in the area in which the tiger was killed last year.
Seems like Stripey, the cub, may just have company.
(Under the aegis of CSE fellowships)