By Pamela Raghunath
The Maharashtra government will take a no-nonsense approach to saving the tiger, India’s national animal, by officially making a bonfire of wildlife contraband, including tiger and leopard skins and elephant tusks.
State Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam, Minister of State for Forests U. Samant and various officials will preside at an official burning of the contraband goods at the government house, Sahyadri, in Malabar Hill on Tuesday morning, said a statement from Chavan’s office.
Such products, including tiger body parts, derives from wildlife that is poached by a well-knit mafia and fetch huge prices in international markets.
The event comes a day after the July 29th launch of a new global Save-the-Tiger campaign called “Leave Me Alone” — a joint initiative of Sanctuary Asia magazine, Save the Tiger, the Facebook tiger conservation social media platform with 2.7 million supporters, the Mumbai Press Club as well as active support from the Wildlife and Forest Department of Government of Maharashtra.
Chavan is expected to outline policy steps taken to curb the rise in illegal wildlife trade which is tightly linked to international trade in narcotics and weapons. This has been identified by both Central and state governments as a reason for the increased poaching pressure on the tiger in Maharashtra and other states.
Sanctuary Asia Editor Bittu Sahgal will outline the crucial role the public must play in protecting the tiger and winning the war against poaching and uncontrolled destruction of habitat — which has brought down the wild tiger population to 1,800 in the country, from around 100,000 in 1900. More....