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Tiger deaths, poaching to figure in Rajasthan wildlife committee meet

The committee is supposed to meet in Sariska.

jaipur Updated: Apr 20, 2018 21:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Alwar
Forest officials make a temporary water body for intensive camera trapping in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Alwar. The water body was made to trace the missing tigress ST 5. (HT Photo)

The Standing Committee of the Wildlife Board of Rajasthan will meet in Sariska on Saturday amid controversies such as the deaths of tigers in Ranthambore and poaching of a tiger at the Sariska Tiger Reserve.

Two tiger cubs died in Ranthambore National Park on Tuesday while one tiger, ST11, was poached using a snare trap in Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) on March 19. Since the beginning of the year, four tigers have died in the state.

Another issue likely to come up at the meeting will be of tigress ST 5, who has been missing for the past two months. Location of ST5 has become a mystery as signals are received from the big cat’s radio collar at night.

Former Rajasthan director general of police Ajit Singh is the chairman of the standing committee. Other members are Valmik Thapar, Dharmendra Khandal, Girish Kushwaha and Charles Ratnaswami. Officials from Ranthambore and Mukundra national parks will also take part in the meeting.

However, Sunain Sharma, of the NGO Tiger Foundation, and former deputy conservator of forest, said that the meeting is only eyewash as the members are not interested in the development of the Sariska Tiger Reserve.

The standing committee was formed to manage the day to day issues as the State Wildlife Board, which functions under the chief minister, meets twice or thrice a year.

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is being paid by the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India (NTCA) under an MOU to protect and conserve tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR). But the institute is facing criticism for negligence.

In the past two weeks, the STR administration has written thrice to the director of WII requesting them to send their experts to solve the mystery of tigress ST 5’s whereabouts, but no response has been received.

Chief conservator of forest, Sariska, Govind Sagar Bharadwaj confirmed that the letter has been sent but no response had been received from WII so far.

While the WII acts indifferent, the government, too, does not seem to care much. After tigers went extinct after mass poaching at STR in 2005, for the first time in the world tigers were relocated from Ranthambore to STR in 2008.

In 2010, a tiger, ST1, was poisoned by the villagers and the then Congress government had dealt with the issue seriously. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot had visited STR and instructed that security of the big cats be increased. This time, however, after the death of ST11 on March 19 and tigress ST5 went missing, neither the state forest minister nor minister in charge of Alwar district, Gajendra Singh Khinvsar, have visited the park.

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 21:50 IST