By Rashmi Drolia
RAIPUR: A sloth bear was shot dead by police after it allegedly turned man-eater and attacked on locals at Marwahi forest division in Bilaspur district late on Wednesday. Though it came as a sigh of relief to locals, the issue has sparked controversy in the forest department and gave reasons to infuriate wild life activists.
Forest officials condemned the killing and raised questions over what instantly prompted the police officials to open fire at the wild animal without seeking permission from forest authority.
Talking to TOI, principal chief conservator forest, wildlife (PCCF) Ramprakash said, "As per the Wildlife Conservation Act 1972, a wild animal can't be tranquilized let alone be killed without permission. It came as a shock to me that without informing the authority, they decided to kill. An investigating team is being formed which will be sent to the spot and further submit the detailed report in a fortnight's time."
He added that had they been informed, the bear could have been tranquilized and shifted to a zoo. Marwahi forest area is famously called 'bhaloo land' (bear land) for abundant population of bears which also creates lot of human-animal conflict in the region.
On the other hand, a wild life activist Ajay Dubey has written to Ministry of Environment and Forest mentioning about the brutal killing of the sloth bear. The letter said, "As per the wild life Act, district administration is not authorized to kill scheduled/wild animals. Only the chief wild life warden (CWLW) of state is authorized to take decision on the destiny of the bear which comes under schedule 1 category of the Act."
Talking to TOI, Dubey said, "It happened due to the weak monitoring done by the forests department which should have been taken cognizance of the matter when the bear went wild two days ago. It's because of their lame behavior that police didn't feel it necessary to seek permission from forest department."
Dubey in his letter has requested the Ministry to form high level inquiry into the matter. Another wildlife activist Mansoor Khan from Bilaspur has also written to forest department for probing into the matter and demanded to cure the human-animal conflict in the region.
Earlier, there were reports that a full-grown bear had attacked the locals and killed one but it was on Wednesday that a local called Kaliram was attacked and killed by this sloth bear. When the reports reached officials, they failed to scare away the bear which was feeding on the body. Another person was also injured in the act when he tried to save Kaliram.
Pendra senior divisional manager Ranveer Sharma however, admitted that he issued the permission to shoot the bear after several attempts foiled to drive away the animal from the area which could have resulted more dangerous.
As per the post-mortem reports, the bear sustained 11 bullets on its body shot by Insas rifle.
According to A M K Bharos, a veteran wild life enthusiast, there have been more than 380 cases of disability in the sloth bear attack while more than 10 lost their lives. While Pendra, Marwahi, Kartala, Kudmura , Pasarkhet , Lemru , Balco ,Korba range among the most [sic\....