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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guards of Maharashtra tiger reserves told to shoot poachers on sight

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 8:45 IST By Surendra Gangan | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA The state forest department has issued an order empowering guards to shoot poachers on sight in Maharashtra’s four tiger reserves. The order was issued after two tigers and three leopards were found killed in the last few weeks. Forest minister Patangrao Kadam on Tuesday said the high-powered committee of forest officers took the decision to empower the staff. He said the guards have been provided with logistic support as well. “Killing poachers won’t be considered a crime and no case will be registered if the forest staff catch them in the act and open fire. The guards have been provided with state-of-the-art arms. They will also be given 100 vehicles. The department has been given additional funds for hiring informants,” Kadam said. He said a CID probe has been announced in the killing of two tigers at the Tadoba reserve to find out whether they were electrocuted or poached. A committee of four forest officers will conduct a parallel inquiry in the killings. On April 26, a tiger was found killed and another seriously injured in the Tadoba reserve. On May 18, a tiger was found chopped to pieces; it is suspected to be a contract killing. On May 20, three leopards were found killed, but it is not yet clear if they died of electric shock. Praveen Pardesi, principal secretary, forest department, said the staff have been keeping vigil round the clock. “Earlier, wildlife activists and locals used to find the bodies and alert officials. But in the recent killings, it was the guards who found the dead animals,” he said.

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