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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Closed for outsiders, but minister latest visitor at tiger territory

TNN Mar 31, 2012, 03.37AM IST LUCKNOW: The tiger-tracking operation in Rahmankhera is at a stage where it has to get more concentrated and intensive. However, the presence of a minister and his entourage can always hamper the already sluggish momentum of the operation. Shiv Pratap Yadav, minister of state for zoological parks, UP, had visited Rahmankhera on Thursday. He was accompanied by his entourage too. The pictures taken at the spot show minister mounted on an elephant, with his men and tracking team, combing the area. A day after, even forest officials sound clueless as to what made the minister visit the spot, which the department has kept closed for 'outsiders'. Besides, nobody in the forest department is sure if he has the charge of wildlife. "He might have been sent by the CM," is only what highly-placed sources in the UP forest department could say about his visit. "He is a minister and can't be questioned," said sources, but at the same time, they do not deny that the spot should have least disturbance. The efforts to tranquilise and trap the tiger have been on in Rahmankhera for the last three months now. From January 9 till now, the tracking team, comprising forest officers and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) personnel, has been missing every opportunity to either tranquilise or trap the tiger. The only good thing about the entire operation is that tiger has become localised around the campus of Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH). However, VIP visits like the one on Thursday could drive the tiger away from the spot, a possibility that forest department officials do not deny. Such visits in the area will hamper the success of the operation. The minister is still an 'outsider' to the operation, and considering that he has no expertise in wildlife, his presence at ground zero can jeopardise the safety of the humans as well as the feline. If sources are to be believed, there were shots fired in the air on Thursday to turn the tiger away from the spot where minister was present. So far, the forest department has not even allowed the staff and scientists of CISH to go close to the area where it conducts the combing operation, despite the fact that it has been hampering the work at the institute. Even the wildlife experts who have been offering help to the department in safely trapping the tiger have been kept away from the spot. But ministerial visits, even the sources in the department agree, are difficult to keep off. "In such a situation like this, if anything goes amiss, it's the tiger which will be shot down," said one of the wildlife experts, wishing not to be quoted.

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