By Milind Ghatwai
A day after the alleged killing of a male tiger cub in Bandhavgarh national park by poachers, the forest department on Monday took into custody the caretaker of the farm owned by deputy speaker of Madhya Pradesh Assembly Rajendra Singh.
Singh, a minister during the Congress regime, owns nearly 50 acre of land contiguous to the Tala range of the famous tiger reserve in Umaria district. The carcass of the cub, aged less than one year, was found inside the farm, its neck trapped in a snare made of GI wire.
While denying knowledge of any incident of poaching on his farm land or involvement of his caretaker Kundan Sahu, the deputy speaker said he would cooperate in with the investigators and would welcome any move by the government to acquire his farm land. He said he bought the land nearly three decades ago and does not use it even for even agriculture activity.
Sahu was taken into custody from his house in Baansa after a Preliminary Offence Report (POR) was registered. Park director C H Murlikrishna told The Indian Express that a dog squad called for investigation reached Sahu’s house, less than half a kilometer from where the carcass was recovered on Sunday. He said it’s possible that the snare was meant to catch a wild boar and the caretaker panicked after seeing the cub whose carcass was intact. The investigators are questioning Sahu to find out if he knew of the trap or the alleged poachers.
“I visit the farm land only once a year. It’s common for tigers to jump over the chain link fence, one of the tigresses even littered in the past. I am a conservationist myself and would not like to harm the big cat,” the former minister told The Indian Express. He said he spoke to Forest Minister Gaurishankar Shejwar.
The cub had probably died more than 36 hours before the carcass was found. Its mother and another sibling were still in the private farm and had to be lured back to the park using a live bait. Singh’s farm also has a water source.