Forest minister directs officials to take measures to save big cats in Maharashtra
The death of 30 tigers prompted the Maharashtra government to review the mechanism of conservation of the big cats. A high-level meeting, involving Maharashtra Minister of State for Forests, Dattatray Bharne, and top officials of the ministry was held on Friday to evaluate the measures being taken to save the big cats following.
The deaths of the tigers have been reported primarily from Nagpur, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli since January this year.
Expressing concern over the deaths of several tigers, Bharne asked the wildlife wing of the forest department to take “effective measures” to save tigers.
A majority of these tigers fell victim to the poachers. On the other hand, as many as 35 people in the state were killed in tiger attacks in Maharashtra till October this year.
The neighbouring Chandrapur district is a major flashpoint of man-animal conflict. Chandrapur, the tiger region of the state housing the famous Tadoba tiger sanctuary, reported 33 deaths this year alone.
The forest minister also obtained information regarding the herd of elephants that entered Gadchiroli district recently from the adjoining state and asked the officers to make compensation available to farmers in Dhanora tehsil of Gadchiroli district as the elephants had damaged the crops. He sought a report on the stay of elephant herds in Maharashtra.
After taking stock of the situation, Bharne asked the offices to initiate special measures to curb tiger deaths. He stressed upon creating awareness among people residing in areas near forests that were tiger habitats. The officers informed him that 42 persons were arrested in seven cases to check the incidents of poaching of tigers and other wild animals this year in the state. Bharne asked them to continue with the action.
State forest chief, G Saiprakash, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and other senior officials were present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray, took stock of the progress of works of the ambitious Gorewada International Zoo through a video conference on Friday. He asked the officers concerned to set the priorities and also press for timely completion of the work.
Thackeray chaired the high-level meeting while Sitaram Kunte, chief secretary of Maharashtra; Vikas Kharge, principal secretary to the chief minister; OP Gupta, principal secretary (finance); Venugopal Reddy, principal secretary (forest); G Saiprakash, principal chief conservator of forests (head of forest force); Sunil Limaye, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) were present.
Gorewada International Zoo is named after Balasaheb Thackeray. The chief minister also asked the officers concerned to rope in businessmen and locals to make the project planning more effective.
Further, he suggested bringing in various animals and birds from other countries. African safari, night safari, walk-in-aviary, tribal trail, walking trail and such projects should be started at Gorewada to attract tourists in greater numbers, he said.