By Vijay Pinjarkar
Poachers killed 10 tigers between 2002 and 2004 in Sariska in Rajasthan wiping out the entire population of big cats in the tiger reserve. The resulting uproar led the prime minister to order a CBI probe into the incident. That probe showed result with main accused Sansar Chand being arrested.
The situation in Central India's tiger parks is worse than Sariska where poacher gangs have admitted to killing at least 11 tigers since last monsoon. Wildlife experts have called for a CBI probe into this case as well. The confession came from three poachers belonging to notorious Baheliya community from Katni arrested here. They also admitted to have sold five tiger skins and body parts to a Delhi-based agent.
Conservationists point out that crime has been spread over multiple states with tigers poached in Vidarbha and Madhya Pradesh and skins sold in Delhi. They also point to limited investigative capability and reach that forest officials have. Wildlife conservationist and executive director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) Belinda Wright has called for a CBI probe into missing tigers in the region.
"The good news is that this case gives authorities information and an opportunity to address the problem of tiger poaching. But this cannot be done by the forest department. The investigations must be handed over to a high-level, independent, professional investigation agency such as the CBI," Wright told TOI. She added this was the only chance of curbing the problem and giving the wild tigers of Central India a fighting chance of survival. "The stakes are high and this was an incredible opportunity to do the right thing for India's national animal," she said. More....