Thursday, July 22, 2010
More tusker bodies found in Simlipal; experts sound alarm
Moushumi Basu | New Delhi
Simlipal tiger reserve in Odisha continues to be in news for wrong
reasons with more reports of tusker deaths. Two more carcasses were
found recently in the reserve, indicating that organised poaching
gangs are thriving. Experts fear that 13-14 more tuskers may have been
poached and efforts are on to locate their bodies.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) swung into action
last month, following the shocking disclosure of nearly 12 jumbo
deaths and reports of burnt carcasses. After major uproar by wildlife
activists, it constituted a two-member independent committee
comprising Biswajit Mohanty, Secretary, Wildlife Society of Orissa and
former member National Board for Wildlife and Belinda Wright,
Director, Wildlife Protection Society of India.
Ironically, even as the report of the committee was submitted last
month, its findings continue to be a “closely-guarded secret” so far.
It has not been put in public domain, despite tall claims of
transparency by the NTCA. The sources pointed out that the serious
nature of the findings of the committee has made the authority wary.
Going a step ahead, it has constituted another seven-member committee.
This, once again, is a “hush-hush step” for “monitoring the status/
progress of implementation of the recommendations made by the earlier
committee, besides close liaisoning with State authorities for
redressing the problems”. The term of the committee is for six months.
While Mohanty and Wright figure in the new committee again, the team
also includes Sanjukta Basa, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Mayurbhanj, PN
Padhi, Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) Odisha, BK Patanaik, former CWW, BK
Sharma Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, besides the
Regional Deputy Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.
One of the terms of reference of the committee states that it would
“advise the CWW” besides the Field Director of the reserve on
protection and managerial issues. Experts pointed out that when the
CWW is a member of the same committee, how can he advise himself?” The
committee is to update the NTCA on the status of the reserve on
monthly basis and submit a report after six months.
Pointing to the alarming status of the reserve, the experts reminded
that the committee had reported a total of 10 deaths. Seven were
reported earlier and three more confirmed later. Further, two more
bodies have been unearthed in July. “We have information of 13 more,
for which search operations were continuing. However, they have
presently been halted due to the monsoon,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO) had earlier written to
the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh demanding a CBI investigation
into the incidents. It is necessary to particularly bring out the role
of field forest officers in the incidents. After all, it cannot be
possible for such continued poaching to go on without their
connivance, the letter pointed out. “There have been deliberate
efforts to destroy evidence by burning or burying the bodies,” said
the members. However, no action has been taken so far.
The reserve is spread over an area of 2,750 sqkm and once boasted of
having 101 tigers and over 500 wild elephants. According to experts,
while the tiger population is feared to have fallen to a mere 20, the
official pachyderm count, till May this year, is 298.
Link - http://www.dailypioneer.com/270886/M...und-alarm.html