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Friday, February 10, 2012

National network of tiger poachers busted

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times A nation-wide network of poachers spanning across four tiger states has been unearthed with the arrest of six members of two separate gangs in the last fortnight. Six leopard and tiger skins and about five kilogram of bones have been recovered from them. But, their claim of killing eight to ten tigers in less than six months, which is about 40 percent of poaching incidents big cat deaths during the period, has caused panic. “Their claim is alarming and we are verifying it,” said a senior Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) official. About 18 tiger deaths, of which five were killed this January, have been reported in last one year. Increase in tiger population from 1,411 to 1,706 in less than years has pushed the big cats outside the protected core areas, thereby making them vulnerable to poaching. The big catch was on Thursday when the WCCB officers arrested Dharambir and four accomplices from Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh with four leopard and one tiger skin. The animals were apparently killed with the help of iron traps in Corbett Tiger Reserve and Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand when the elections were on. They have claimed to have already transported two consignments to international wildlife dealer in Delhi identified as Lavi Singh after the state assembly elections got over on January 30. They were unlucky third time when they were caught with the parts in Haridwar. The WCCB officials believe that the consignment was meant for sale in the international market. Belinda Wright of NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India said the international price of tiger parts has increased manifold. “We have seen a sudden spurt in demand in the last few weeks which may be cause of increase in poaching and seizures,” she said. The WCCB investigation has confirmed Wright’s apprehension with investigation into seizure of a tiger skin by customs officials in Siliguri, West Bengal revealing that tigers were killed in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The WCCB has been able to establish linkage with Siliguri seizure with the network of poachers in these three states. “The local poachers were employed to kill the tigers and then body parts were transported to Kolkatta. From there it was smuggled outside the country from Nepal and Myanmar borders,” the official said. The officials are also trying to link arrest of five persons in Kerala and recovery of a leopard and tiger skin from them with international wildlife smugglers.

Hyderabad shikari called upon to tackle Lucknow tiger menace

TNN | Feb 10, 2012, 02.36AM IST HYDERABAD: The tiger menace has returned to Awadh Forest Division dangerously close to Lucknow and licensed shikari Nawab Shafath Ali Khan from the city has been invited by the authorities to tackle the menace. With the tiger on the prowl at the Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) campus, barely 15km from the Lucknow, for more than a month, residents have been living in fear. All attempts by the Awadh Forest division and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to track and tranquillise the big cat have been in vain. The four-year-old tiger got into the campus from Pilibhit forest, near river Gomti running from the forest to Lucknow. On either side of the river is thick forest like vegetation. The tiger entered the vegetation and travelled along the river. Unable to deviate, it reached the CISH campus. According to Khan, the forest department and WTI put together a six-member team to tranquillise the tiger so that it could be released back into its natural habitat. After 35 days, on February 7, the team of trackers used a buffalo calf as bait to lure the tiger. After realising that they had failed, the unsuspecting team went to release the calf only to be charged by the tiger. Khan received an invitation from Ashok Mishra, DFO Awadh Forest Division, on February 8 to tranquillise the animal. When contacted, DFO Ashok Mishra confirmed that Khan has indeed been invited by the Awadh Forest Department and will be leaving for Lucknow to tranquillise the tiger on February 10 at 10 am. "The CISH campus forest abuts the Lucknow-Haridwar highway. The tigeris trapped because it is unable to cross the highway into the proper forest due to heavy traffic," said Khan, who resides in Bazaar Guard area. Tigers move from one place to another with the change of season and the forest department is afraid that the wild cat might enter Lucknow anytime, he added. Tigers always charge towards the shooter when they are tranquillised. As a precautionary measure and for safety of his team, Khan will carry a .458 Winchester Magnum which has enough stopping power to take on a charging tiger in its tracks and a range of 100 metres. "The forest department doesn't have powerful weapons to tackle man-eaters or rogue elephants," he noted, adding this is the first time that a private individual has been called by the forest department to tranquilise the national animal. On February 24, 2009, Khan was invited by the Awadh Forest division to put down a tigress which turned man-eater and had killed five people and mauled many more. The tigress had travelled 350 km from Pilibheet to Faizabad and terrorised farmers.

Buffer zone protects human habitation

Express News Service , The New Indian Express CHIKMAGALUR:� The conservation guild activists claimed that owing to buffer zone, the Project Tiger area in the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary will not affect human habitation around it. In a statement issued here on Thursday, activists of Wild Cat-C, Bhadra wildlife Conservation Trust and the Nature Conservation Guild, Sridev Hulikere and D V Girish, claimed that Project Tiger buffer zone formation would affect industrial units and construction of jungle resorts. According to them, there was no need for people around Bhadra Wildlife sanctuary to panic. The activists added that the cultivable lands, including plantations, are within a 10 km radius of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. The buffer zone area will be carved out of government lands and 90 per cent of it falls under the reserve forests. The� Environment Conservation Act states that� buffer zone should be formed in ecologically sensitive areas and care should be taken not to disturb areas of� human habitation. Sridev and Girish said that people residing within 10 km radius of the sanctuary would� willingly move out. Those moving out, would be rehabilitated suitably.

Huge haul of poached animal parts, 5 held

FRIDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2012 00:41 PNS | DEHRADUN HITS: 112 The pelts of one tiger, four leopards and about 3 kg big cat bones were seized from five persons who were arrested in Najibabad in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. The wildlife contraband is said to have been sourced from Uttarakhand. According to regional deputy director (northern region) of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau Ramesh K Pandey, a joint operation involving the WCCB, UP STF and Najibabad police arrested five persons based on intelligence provided by the bureau. The five were arrested with one tiger and four leopard pelts, bones and two iron traps used specifically for trapping big cats. The kingpin of the gang, Dharmveer Kanjar, was also among those arrested. The rest have been identified as Sunil Nath and Omar of Najibabad, Navi Singh of Dharchula and the car driver, Punit Chauhan. It is believed that Dharmveer received wildlife contraband from the plains and hilly regions of Uttarakhand. According to Pandey, Najibabad is a convenient town with links to both the hills and the plains due to which Dharmveer was able to source banned wildlife commodities from all parts of the State. The arrested persons confessed that while three leopard pelts have been sourced from Kugadda in Kalagarh forest range in Uttarakhand, the tiger skin and one leopard pelt were obtained from Rajaji National Park.