Website by AQEEL FAROOQI  



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Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years

 WILDLIFE WINDOW | Aqeel Farooqi

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | February 13, 2002


Dudhwa loses another tiger

At the fag end of January, there came news that yet another tiger was found dead in Dudhwa tiger reserve. As usually happens in such cases, wildlife circles were abuzz with discussions about the possible causes of its death. In the absence of any concrete information dissemination by the Forest department, either though the print media or the internet, it is not surprising that one perforce has to base oneís inferences on reports that emanate from individuals or organizations which are actively involved in conservation activities in the area where the incident occurred. This unfortunately creates a situation where some doubts are raised against the efficacy of the Forest department, and often leads to a face-off between the department and the conservationists.

In this case too, there is just the preliminary official confirmation that the body of a tiger had been recovered on 29 January, from the Belrayan range of Dudhwa tiger reserve. Following standard procedure, the park management conducted the obligatory post mortem and sent the viscera to Bareilly for detailed examination, while burning the rest of the body. It is this examination report from Bareilly that would be the final instrument of proof that ascertains whether the tiger had been poisoned, or if it died of causes other than poaching.

But during the intervening period, till the report is finally made available to the department, and hopefully made public, it is inevitable that allegations and suspicions will be raised across the line that has so deeply divided standard opinions of the department and conservationists, both of which are paradoxically working towards the same end Ė that of providing the remaining wild tigers with a fighting chance of survival against the machinations of the poachers and wildlife traders.

Considering that the layout of Dudhwa has more than its fair share of reasons for its tiger population coming into conflict with the humans living in its surrounding areas, there have been adequate number of previous cases where tigers have been poisoned by villagers as an instinctive response to either a perceived threat from the big cat, or in retaliation against the inevitable cattle-killing by tigers in an area where grazing herds are pushed into the forest by herders, to whom the grass always seems greener on the other side.

It is these cases of poisonings that have now been so universally accepted as the main causative factor of tiger deaths in Dudhwa. So whenever a tiger is now found dead, one finger of suspicion always points in the direction of the villagers who, ostensibly angry at losing livestock to the great predator, or due to the fact that the tigerís territory may have become dangerously close to their homes and fields, could have resorted to lacing the tigerís kill with massive doses of pesticide.  It is another matter however, that this 'angry villager' syndrome that we seem to be getting trapped in, would be such a welcome smoke screen for the real poacher-trader nexus, which is thriving so brazenly on tiger bones and parts.

Be that as may, it stands to reason that the protection of tigers in Dudhwa is an enormously difficult task for the Forest department, since a free ranging cat like the tiger is bound to suffer when it comes in conflict with humans living in the vicinity of its shrinking habitat, and who are constantly making inroads or trespassing into core areas. It is therefore reasonable to give concessions to the people for whom saving the tiger and its habitat is just a government job, and a tough one too. But it is surely hoped that they would not evade responsibility if tiger deaths were caused by lapses committed in this job.

For the sake of honesty and transparency, it would therefore be prudent to await the report of the viscera examination from Bareilly, and all the while hope that wildlife management in Dudhwa has not been once again bested by the nefarious poacher.