By Vivek Deshpande
Even as an ongoing probe has established the killing of at least five tigers in Maharashtra and two in the adjoining parts of Madhya Pradesh this year, Union Minister for Environment Jayanthi Natrajan is apparently unaware of it.
While forest officials describe it as the "biggest tiger poaching case" cracked in the state's history, Natrajan told The Indian Express on Friday, "Which tiger poaching investigation you are talking about? If there were to be such a serious case, I would have been told about it by Rajesh Gopal (National Tiger Conservation Authority's member-secretary). We are very sensitive to wildlife. Recently, when some people killed a leopard in Uttarakhand, I sent a team there to investigate. And tiger is our flagship animal. We will do everything to protect it."
While two tigers were poached in Melghat, one is now confirmed to have been killed in the new Umred-Karandla sanctuary in Nagpur district another one near Tumsar in the proximity of Nagzira Sanctuary in Gondia district. One was killed at an unknown place by poacher Keru Rajgond.
Sixteen people have so far been arrested in these cases.
Last month, Surajbhan alias Sarju, a wildlife trader, was arrested by Delhi Police, which reportedly seized from him five skins he had sourced from Ramtek near here on May 30.
According to a senior forest official, at its meeting held in New Delhi on September 13 immediately after the arrest of two notorious tiger traders Sarju and Surajpal, the NTCA had directed that nothing be shared with the media for now. "That's why we are not saying much," he said. More....