Dehradun (Uttarakhand), Oct 23: Forest officials have started a special vigil in Rajaji and Jim Corbett national parks to protect tigers from being poached during the festival season at Uttarakhand.
A red alert has been sounded after forest officials got information from their sources that some gangs from the Rajasthan and Haryana have become active in the adjoining national park areas.
These poachers are in search of the right moment to hunt down the tigers.
“On the occasion of festivals like Diwali, Dusshera and Holi, fractious elements will do anything (kill tigers for pleasure) and indulge in revelry. So we are maintaining a vigil in our area; regularly patrolling public places, to find from sources the areas from where these miscreants are infiltrating. “, said Daljeet Singh, beat officer.
The forest officials are leaving no stone unturned and they have increased vigilance. They are checking every vehicle that passes through the forest area and patrolling is going on round the clock.
“On the directive from higher authorities, a red alert has been sounded in the Rajaji park area and patrolling is going on in every range,” said M.S.Negi, range officer, Chila range.
The two national park areas have been very sensitive and in the recent decades many tigers have been killed.
Wildlife experts say an estimated 1,500 tigers have been poached in India in the past decade. In the last year alone, there have been around 100 cases of tiger poaching.
A century ago, there were some 40,000 tigers in India. Now, officials estimate there are about 3,700 tigers left although some environment groups put the number at less than 2,000.
There was uproar in India after reports in March 2005 that the entire tiger population in the Sariska forest sanctuary had been wiped out by poachers, with fears that the situation might be mirrored in other reserves across the country.
Trade in tiger skin and products are illegal but poachers still operate with impunity because a single animal can fetch up to dollar 50,000 in the international market.
Organs, teeth, bones and penises fetch high prices in China and south East Asian nations, where they are used in ancient medicines.