“Eight tigers have died in the last eight months”

Wildlife activist and founder president of Eco-Pro, an NGO from Chandrapur, Bandu Dhotre began an indefinite hunger strike in front of ‘Van Bhavan’ the State's forest headquarters here on Monday, demanding steps for the protection of wildlife, especially tigers.

“Eight tigers have died in the last eight months due to various reasons and the government’s apathy to wildlife protection has contributed to it,” Mr. Dhotre told The Hindu.

“This protest is not against the forest department only, it is to awaken the government to the grave situation we are facing.”

The demands of the NGO include merger of the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) forests in Chandrapur district, along with its employees, into Chandrapur, Central Chanda and Bramhapuri forest divisions for effective tiger protection; installation of the ‘electronic eye’ system in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) on the grounds of Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve and removal of fire protection work of the TATR from the FDCM.

Mr. Dhotre has also demanded that Chandrapur be declared a ‘Tiger District’ and protection provided to every tiger as per norms of a reserve.

“There is an intense need to carry out corridor mapping through the Wildlife Institute of India and to appoint ‘van patils’ in Chandrapur district and other forest areas in Vidarbha on the lines of ‘police patils,” he said.

Vidarbha has witnessed many tiger deaths in the last few months, due to poaching and other reasons. Forest officials refused to comment on the hunger strike.