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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan urged to review 'defunct' tiger cells

TNN | May 1, 2012, 04.37AM IST NAGPUR: Worried by tiger poaching with the help of jaw traps in Palasgaon near Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is also the chairman of State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), has been urged to review functioning of tiger cells, anti-poaching units and law enforcement and come out with new and advanced mechanism to tackle the problem. In a letter written to Chavan on April 30, Kishor Rithe, member of SWBL and chief of Satpuda Foundation, said, "Time has come to think seriously about how effective our tiger cells are and whether we really need a new and advance mechanism in Maharashtra." The tiger cells and anti-poaching units were set up 10 years ago after detection of many wildlife poaching and trade cases in Maharashtra. "However, after almost a decade, I found that most of the district tiger cells are defunct. Police and forest officers conduct meetings as merely a formality. The tiger cells could not become an effective law enforcement mechanism with fixed objectives to regularly gather required intelligence and prevent and detect the wildlife crime cases in the state," Rithe said. In last so many years, forest department could not build its image as the best law (forest & wildlife) enforcement agency. The new Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) will also make no difference if police and forest departments are not tuned to wildlife crime details and latest modus operandi of poachers and wildlife traders. What needs to be done? * Evolve a mechanism with police and forest departments to effectively use tiger cells, anti-poaching units. * Call a meeting of forest and home ministers and secretaries of departments concerned to tackle wildlife poaching and trade. * Take critical review of existing tiger cells and anti-poaching units and steps taken by them to curb illegal poaching and tiger deaths. * Send message to departments concerned through this meeting that government is really serious to protect tigers. * The meeting should be held before any such incident takes place. Gujarat government took such steps after poaching of lions in Gir and were successful.

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