Day after poaching catch, activists question tiger translocationdehradun Updated: Mar 23, 2018 22:12 IST
The relocation is planned as the eastern and western side of the reserve is divided by narrow corridor because of which tigers can’t move to either side.(HT FILE PHOTO)
A day after officials recovered animal parts and decomposed leopard skin from earthen pits in the core area Rajaji Tiger Reserve, experts questioned the forest department’s ambitious plan to relocate tigers to the Motichur range.
The core area of RTS falls in the Motichur range. The area is already on the radar of poachers, at least the latest incident suggests so. Meanwhile, those in the know of things claim that leopards have injured more than 12 people in the area. Relocation of tigers would sideline the leopards from the area resulting in more man-animal conflict and probably, more wildlife crime.
The management is all set to start the relocation in the range for which the exercise is on since last six years. For this, the officers have taken permission from the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC). The relocation is planned as the eastern and western side of the reserve is divided by narrow corridor because of which tigers can’t move to either side.
There’s no breeding happening in the western part, which spreads across 570 sqkm area, while in the eastern part (150 sqkm), the tiger numbers are swelling.
Rajeev Mehta, former wildlife warden, RTR, wrote a letter on Thursday to principal secretary, forest, raising concern on the issue. In the 11-point letter submitted to the senior forest officials as well, Mehta said that in last four years, 55 big cat skins, three bear gall bladders, and scales of two pangolins were seized by Special Task Force (STF) highlighting how wildlife crime is at its peak.
To add to his, the latest incident has set the alarm bells ringing. “The priority is to ensure intervention free habitat in Motichur, which has some of the notorious human habitations like Sapera Basti nearby,” Mehta said.
Mehta also mentioned how encroachers have taken over the conservation and demanded immediate measures to curb wildlife crime.
The activists also ask why tigers aren’t being relocated to Dhaulkhand range of the reserve, which also falls in the western part. As per official records, tiger presence was reported in the range in 80s and yet instead of relocating the big cats here, the officers have identified Motichur.
Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife warden said, “Dhaulkhand isn’t a separate range. It is adjoining Motichur. We identified Motichur as the two tigresses were spotted in the range.”
Meanwhile, sniffer dogs on Friday were put to task. Director RTR, Sanatan Sonkar said that animal parts and leopard hide found in the pits were about one year old, but the flesh was found to be fresh.
“The flesh was fresh. Generally the poachers hide such items in poly-bags. But, we recovered these items tied in a cloth. We are investigating the matter,” Khati added.