Our tiger reserve has no tigers, admits India
15/07/2009 – 15:13:07
An Indian state government has admitted that its tiger reserve has none of the animals left.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Rajendra Shukla said that no tigers were found in the Panna Tiger Reserve during a Wildlife Institute of India survey conducted in May.
The national park had about 40 tigers six years ago.
A special investigative team headed by the former Project Tiger chief P K Sen conducted an inquiry and revisited the park last month to recheck logs and documents.
Their final report on the tiger population, which was submitted to the central government last month, is being examined by the state forest department. The report said poaching was among the reasons for the falling tiger population in the reserve.
Wildlife expert and founder of Wildlife First, Praveen Bhargav, said that all forest reserves ought to be protected properly or the tiger population would decrease.
“The Madhya Pradesh government has long been denying the issue and has maintained that all was well. Now the probe has exposed that there are no tigers in Panna,” he told the Press Association.
“This is a very serious matter and the main point is that accountability must be fixed or we will have more and more cases like the Panna reserve,” Mr Bhargav, a member of the National Board for Wildlife in India, added.
He said that poaching networks have had a “free run” despite authentic studies being conducted and alarm bells being sounded by scientists and conservationists.
“This is a case of major protection failure and an attempt to cover up that failure. Lessons must be learnt and those responsible must be held accountable.”
The government has also begun the process of moving two tigresses to the Panna park. Mr Shukla added that they are waiting for permission from the central government to relocate four more cats to the reserve.
Mr Bhargav, however, pointed out that the plan is pointless if the reserves are not protected. “The government must address the core problem of sufficient protection.
“Unless heads roll, translocation of animals is not going to help as these too might be lost and the situation will not change,” he said.