Politicians come to the ‘rescue’ of tiger poachers

Politicians come to the ‘rescue’ of tiger poachers

Ashwin Aghor

The efforts of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) came to a naught when three people from Wai, Satara district, were released, allegedly at the behest of local politicians, despite being caught possessing tiger traps. The state forest department has decided to call in the CID to investigate the matter.

Reportedly, six tiger traps were seized from the trio who have been identified as Hanumant Pawar, Rajendra Salunkh and Dashrath Salunkhe. Sources said WPSI got information about a group of people in Wai that supplied steel traps to poachers from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. “We raided their houses on September 29,” said Nitin Desai, central India director of WPSI.

When the trio was brought to Wai forest office, around 300 people, led by local politicians from all parties, gathered at the office and demanded their immediate release. Police had to be deployed to control the situation. “It is disgusting that politicians from all parties rallied to release the men who have been involved in poaching. Political patronage to such people will soon result in extinction of the big cat,” said a senior forest official. Local political leaders reportedly threatened forest department officials of dire consequences if the trio was not released. The release was made on the condition that the trio reported to the forest office on a daily basis.

State forest minister Babanrao Pachpute said, “The state cannot tolerate such action, though politicians are involved in it. No one can advocate release of people involved in poaching.”



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