MP shifts 3 tiger reserve chiefs
New Delhi/Bhopal, May 21
The field directors of three tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh have been transferred by the Madhya Pradesh Government shortly after reports of mismanagement and large-scale deaths in the reserves in The Indian Express. MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the transfer of the field directors of Kanha, Panna and Bandhavgarh after consistent pressure from the Centre regarding the state of the reserves.
“Maintaining the tiger state status is a big challenge in the present state of conservation,” Chouhan admitted. Not only were three field directors transferred, Chouhan also asked for the list of directors who served in these parks in the last five years and the chief conservators of forests. He said strict action would be taken against officials showing laxity in conservation of tigers and other animals.
Panna director L K Chaudhary and Bandhavgarh director Aseem Shrivastava were transferred to the PCCF office in Bhopal while Kanha director R P Singh was transferred to the State Forest Research Institute in Jabalpur.
An investigative report filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) this month, copies of which are with The Indian Express, said that there was “no evidence of tigers” in Mukki, an important tiger range in Kanha. The Wildlife Institute of India had earlier reported that there was “no evidence” of tigers in the adjoining Panna range, a claim consistently denied by the MP Government.
Once the repositories of the “source” population of tigers in Central India, or the bulk of the tiger population in Central India, Panna and Kanha are fast facing the threat of losing that status. After the complete disappearance of tigers from Panna this year, conservationists are worried that Kanha is going the same way. “Kanha was being mismanaged and the tigers are slipping fast. Never have so many tigers died in Kanha in such a short while. All focus seems to be on tourism activities. There will be infighting of tigers only if the main populations are disturbed or poached,” says an NTCA official.
“We have set up an independent committee which will probe what went wrong in Panna. It will also probe all tiger deaths in MP,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests PB Gangopadhyay told The Indian Express. Earlier this year, MP moved two tigresses to Panna, in a bid to repopulate the reserve.
It also asked the MoEF for permission to translocate a male tiger to the reserve, a tacit admission that there were no tigers left in Panna.
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