The government on Tuesday admitted that there was 'rampant' killing of tigers in the country and said the big cats have became locally extinct in Sariska and Panna Reserves mainly due to poaching.
"Tiger killing is rampant in India and smuggling of tiger skin is the second largest" after illicit trade in narcotics, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said replying to a calling attention notice in the Rajya Sabha on the depletion of tiger population in the country.
The minister especially asked Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where Sariska and Panna reserves are located, to take stern action against poachers.
"Poachers have been arrested in Panna but no action has been taken against them. I request Madhya Pradesh government to prosecute them so that Panna can be a test case for other reserves where tiger population is diminishing," he said.
He also said that state governments cannot be left alone to conserve tigers. Important personalities representing various sectors should be given this responsibility, he said.
The Centre has initiated a programme to involve local communities in protecting tiger population and the first project, which started in Corbett Park in Uttarakhand, will be replicated in other reserves, if it is successful, he said.
Ramesh was hopeful that the project will be completed in next 5-6 months, in which the local 'Van Gujjar' tribes will be recruited as para police force.