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Friday, May 25, 2012

Treat doubtful deaths as poaching: NTCA

FRIDAY, 25 MAY 2012 00:22 PNS | NEW DELHI Close on the heels of rising poaching of big cats, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in a strong advisory addressed to all the Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWW) has stated “every case of tiger and leopard death should henceforth be treated as case of poaching unless otherwise proved beyond reasonable doubt”. Hence, if a tiger death is classified as occurring due to natural causes, this should be substantiated by adequate field evidence and factual details while reporting to NTCA, states the advisory. Hence, the CWW’s while reporting tiger deaths can not simply get away while reporting a tiger death by giving pretexts of territorial in-fighting, natural deaths etc. This comes in the wake of four recent poaching incidents of tiger and three of leopards in Maharashtra. Earlier, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had set alarm bells ringing after she informed the house in the just concluded Budget Session that there have been 14 cases of poaching of tigers reported this year so far. Throwing light on the “water-shed advisory”, SP Yadav, joint director, NTCA said: “any incident of tiger death would now call for more detailed field investigation. While natural mortality owing to density related stress does occur in a tiger habitat but from henceforth, it would have to be established based on categorical evidence.” Tiger source areas are targeted by poachers and tigers also become victims of non-targeted killings due to man-tiger conflicts. There is need to ensure adequate caution while classifying tiger deaths due to “natural” causes. As per the advisory note, the area from where tiger death has been reported has to be thoroughly combed to ensure that there are no metal traps or snares in the area. Evidence related to unauthorized vehicular movement, use of fire arms, poisoning near water points, natural salt licks and poisoning of livestock kills made by tiger or leopard needs to be explored in details. Not only this any history of recurring livestock depredation , human deaths or injuries due to wild carnivores in the area should also be taken into account along with cases related to compensation/ ex-gratia payment The day to day patrolling by field staffs and supervisory checks at senior levels should ensure prevention actions as well as proactive detection rather than retroactive actions. This would also facilitate retrieval of carcasses before purification thereby facilitating forensic examination in laboratory.

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