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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

NTCA to conduct independent probe into Wayanad tiger killing

By K R Rajeev, TNN | Dec 5, 2012, 01.13 AM IST KOZHIKODE: Taking serious note of the shooting of a stray tiger in Wayanad on Sunday, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided to rush a three-member team to conduct an independent probe into the incident. Three assistant inspector general rank officers -- Sanjay Kumar from the NTCA headquarters in New Delhi and Ravikiran Govekar and Shivakumar C M from the NTCA regional offices in Nagpur and Bangalore respectively -- will reach Wayanad on Wednesday. A senior official with the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) in New Delhi told TOI that the team will look into all aspects on 'how and under what circumstances the animal was shot dead'. He said that under the Wildlife Act, a tiger can be killed only when it is a 'man eater' and that too after specific orders from the chief wildlife warden. The team will also examine the carcass of the animal preserved at the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary. The official said that the district administration and the state forest department had failed to remove public misconceptions about the area being declared a tiger reserve. "We feel that the forest department there was euphoric about the reported high tiger numbers in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and were showcasing it as their USP. The claim that there were 70 tigers in Wayanad alone was not correct as the area is contiguous with the tiger reserves in Karnataka. The sanctuary cannot sustain such a large tiger population. The report of such high numbers could have spread panic among the people," he said. The official added that even the NTCA was not interested in declaring the area a tiger reserve as Wayanad is a human dominated landscape and cannot be a successful tiger reserve. Meanwhile, environment organizations in Wayanad have demanded a CBI probe into the incident. They said that the tiger was killed to pacify a mob that was baying for its blood even after two tranquilizer shots were fired at it. "The MoEF and NTCA should take steps to initiate a probe by a central agency into the conspiracy hatched by certain vested interests and political parties to kill the animal by whipping up public frenzy," said Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi president N Badusha. Wildlife activists, who are also contemplating legal action against the government, said that the incident has brought to light the abject failure of the district administration in crowd control and crisis management. "The firing of tranquilizer shots should have been made in a controlled situation and not in the middle of thousands of people. The life of the animal could have been saved if a little more time was given for the tranquilizer to act on the animal," he added. Meanwhile, Bandipur Tiger Reserve director Kumar Pushkar told TOI that the 10-member special tiger protection force team from Bandipur had no role in the killing of the animal. "Our team did not carry any firearms. Our officials only helped in the search for the animal and in firing the tranquilizing darts," he said. Kerala forest officials admitted that it was a forest guard of the department who had fired the killing shot.

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