By Vijay Pinjarkar
The first official statement on tiger poaching issued by the forest department on July 19, exactly 43 days after two organized poachers Mamru and Chika were arrested, seems to an exercise in washing hands off the poaching problem rather than trying to tackle it head on.
The statement by chief conservator of forests (CCF) for Nagpur Circle SH Patil, which was approved by additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) SS Mishra, comes in the wake TOI's expose of call detail report of tiger skin trader from Haryana Sarju Bagdi on July 20. Sarju procured tiger skins right under the nose of forest officials.
It was TOI which had first exposed the poaching case on June 10, but the department never came clear on the issue. First, it was about sale of five tiger skin, which included one from Tumsar and another from Melghat, bought by Sarju from Aamdi Fata near Ramtek. Even the mystery behind five tiger skins has not been solved yet.
Subsequent interrogation of poachers revealed that Sarju had procured six more tiger skins from Bhandarbodi near Ramtek in the first week of April. The total tiger skins Sarju bought from various gangs was 11.
Patil has clarified that arrested poachers never admitted about the latter six skins in their confession. Instead of probing the serious issue in toto, the forest officials are trying to downplay it.
Investigating officials from Melghat and Nagpur told TOI that the fact of six tiger skins procured in April first week was revealed by poachers when they were quizzed in Melghat on June 9, but the statement was not recorded for reasons best known to forest officials.
The six skins included one tiger each from Katangi in MP and another from Melghat. More....