By Vivek Madhao Deshpande
While forest officials deny the claim, samples collected at the site reveal that four tigers were killed by poachers.
A report from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has revealed that not one, but four tigers were killed by poachers at Ghatang in Melghat last year. Random samples were collected from the location where arrested poachers had confessed to have killed one tiger. “CCMB has sent us a report that says the samples belong to four different tigers. The poachers had admitted to killing only one,” said Pravin Pardeshi, Principal Secretary (Forest, Maharashtra).
Over 20 poachers were arrested in two different cases of tiger poaching from Melghat last year. Apart from Ghatang, a tiger was reportedly killed by some of them in Dhakna range. A team of investigators led by Divisional Forest Officer Jitendra Ramgaonkar has been tirelessly probing the case since the last eight months.
Poachers had confirmed killing over twelve tigers in different parts of Vidarbha between 2012 and 2013. Unconfirmed reports quoting one of the arrested tiger parts trader said over 20 tigers were killed in the same period by poachers. The Forest officials had been denying the claim. But with the latest revelation, the claim appears to be nearly correct. “While it is true that poachers have caused a lot of damage, our investigators have tried to hide nothing contrary to what a section of the media has been claiming. It should be appreciated that we can’t support any claims unless we have the evidence,” Pardeshi said.
“We have learnt a big lesson and are trying to build up as full-proof a system as possible. We have already made substantial improvement in intelligence gathering, establishing a wildlife crime/cyber cell, institutionalising 10 permanent protection camps in buffer territorial areas on the lines of core area of Melghat. With ongoing investigation by our newly recruited staff, we are confident that they can catch any poacher from anywhere in the country. I am sure much improvements are to be done and we are working towards it,” Pardeshi said.