Kawal reserve turns nightmare for tigers

Sharing of information between States happens only when tiger skins are seized

January 26, 2019 11:18 pm | Updated 11:19 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The tiger which was poached recently in Mancherial district.

The tiger which was poached recently in Mancherial district.

Rampant use of live wire snares to capture wild animals has come into sharp focus amid the debate generated over two successive tiger poaching instances that have come to light in this month.

A decision has been taken recently to include electricity officials in the district-level forest protection committees so that every instance of live wire snare can be reported to them in writing.

“Power supply trips whenever an animal gets trapped in live wire snare. The discom officials have been asked to inform us about tripping instances as soon as they happen. The offenders, once caught, can be booked under both the Wildlife Act, and the Electricity Act,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests P.K. Jha said.

The tigers, whose skins were seized recently, were killed using live wires drawing illegal power from electrical lines. Together with the tiger whose body was exhumed from Chennur reserve forest over two years ago, three tiger deaths have been officially confirmed from Adilabad district since 2016.

Unofficial figures could go up to 15, say wildlife watchers and activists, as the evidence in terms of body, skin or nails cannot always be obtained.

Kawal Tiger Reserve and surrounding areas are proving to be virtual black hole for the big cat, as only six of its species survive here, against more than 20 that have entered since 2013.

The latest skin seized has almost been confirmed as that of the tiger which had made its appearance just about a month ago in Kawal.

Phalguna, the matriarch feline that bred two litters of four cubs each has proven to be a tough survivor in Kagaz Nagar forests, while three of its cubs from first litter went missing.

The lone fourth cub, now a full grown tigress, is languishing in Chennur forest with a snare around its body. Latest camera traps of Phalguna’s fresh litter were from about a month ago, though officials assure that they are alive. Disappearance of tigers migrating from Maharashtra’s Tadoba and Tippeshwar sanctuaries remains an enigma, as no bodies or remnants have been recovered in most cases. Officials reason that they might have gone back to Maharashtra, but no concrete evidence points towards this.

Activists accuse the forest officials of not doing enough for protection of the big cat, owing to which live wire snares flourish in the area.

“Attempt to hunt is equally punishable under the Wildlife Act, as actual hunting. But the officials do not book cases for setting up snares,” an activist says, adding that six leopards too were killed after getting caught in snares since 2013.

Forest officials, however, justify inaction, saying farmers mostly set traps for wild boars. Booking cases against them will land hundreds of ryots in jails.

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