Train monitoring system of Tiger Cell failed?
Mazhar Ali, TNN 8 November 2009, 04:36am IST
CHANDRAPUR: With speculation rife that the two tiger skins seized from Sampark Kranti Express in Nagpur on Thursday were from the Chandrapur forests, the role of the train monitoring system of Tiger Cell has come into question.
Despite the body regularly monitoring trains passing through Ballarpur, poachers managed to escape, but fortunately, were arrested in Nagpur.
The tiger cell co-ordinates with the forest department and the railways to check trains passing through the district. Despite tall claims, Tiger Cell meetings have only been on paper with hardly any plans being implemented on the ground.
“We have ordered checking of general compartments of all trains passing through Ballarsha. The DCF was instructed to deploy his men to check trains with the help of railway police. However, due to lack of man power and poor infrastructure, the task is daunting,” said tiger cell secretary and DCF SD Dodal.
“The central Chanda forest division staffers with the help of railway police regularly check general compartments of all trains. However, trains on the Chandrapur-Gondia route are checked only once a week,” added Dodal.
When asked how CBI sleuths managed to nab poachers who boarded the train from Ballarpur, Dodal said, “Our intelligence network was not effective. On the contrary, the CBI team from Delhi acted on a tip-off and succeeded.”
Dodal agreed that with effective checking of trains, the poachers could have been nabbed at Ballarpur itself. The case has baffled officials.
With the recent case of the missing tigress from Dhaba range, fingers are now pointing towards the central Chanda forest division. “The protection in our division is tight and there is little chance that poaching could have taken place. In fact, it is premature to says that the Dhaba tigress is missing. We have a camera trap of a full-grown tiger near a kill. We are looking for the correct sample to confirm whether it is male or female,” said central Chanda forest division DCF, SV Ramarao.
He said that there was sighting of two tigers by staffers the day after they got the camera grab. “It might be the same tigress with one cub. The other three cubs were separated and later rescued by the forest department,” said Ramarao. “We are unsure whether they are a couple or mother and cub. Once their scat is collected, it will be sent for DNA testing to confirm the sex and the tigress’ relation with the rescued cubs,” added Ramarao.
Meanwhile, PCCF (wildlife) A K Joshi held a meeting with senior forest officials in Nagpur. It is learnt that coordinating with CBI sleuths and obtaining samples of the seized tiger skin for DNA comparing with the orphaned tigers cubs found in Dhaba and Junona forest range were discussed.
Mother tigress still untraced
Despite desperate efforts by TATR staffers, the mother tigress of Katezari cubs remains untraced.
While TATR authorities have set camera traps in at least three places, the other staffers have launched a Machan vigil to locate the tigress which got separated from its four cubs.
“The cubs are safe and are being monitored in the Katezari area of the tiger reserve. The tigress is likely to be in same region the forest, but the mother and cubs have not united,” said Sanjay Thakre, CF and field director of TATR.
He claimed that they have taken a plaster cast of pugmarks of the tiger found in the Katezari area and it will be matched with the old pugmarks of the mother tigress to confirm its presence in the same area. Notably, the four deserted cubs were first sighted on Tuesday in the fields near the TATR border and were subsequently herded back into the reserve. It’s been four days since the cubs got separated from their mother.