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Two officers suspended over tiger's death

Special Correspondent

Chief Minister Gehlot sets up Task Force for Sariska Tiger Sanctuary


‘Rajasthan will ensure success of re-location plan'

The post-mortem reports remain inconclusive


JAIPUR: Even as the mystery over the death of the first male tiger re-introduced in Sariska Tiger Sanctuary continued to loom large, the authorities cracked the whip and suspended two officials—Divisional Forest Officer D. Praveen and Assistant Field Director Mukesh Saini-- on Tuesday. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also announced the setting up of a Task Force for Sariska which will look into the development activities around the Reserve, shifting of the villages and monitoring of the traffic to the temple located inside the sanctuary.

The action against the officers, which followed the visits of Mr.Gehlot and Forest Minister Ramlal Jat to the Reserve the previous day, was said to be on the basis of their overall performance/or the lack of it as it was explained; they allowed the chowkis in the Reserve to remain unmanned while they themselves played truant. Two officers with tiger terrain background Y.K.Sahoo and Kali Charan Verma are likely to be posted to Sariska as DFO and ACF respectively.

The Chief Minister said the tiger re-location programme had also the blessings of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the State would do everything possible to ensure its success. He mentioned the shifting out of the villages from the reserve; check on the mining activities in the area, curbing the disturbances to the animals from the pilgrims visiting Pandupol and the diversion of the road dissecting the reserve into two as the priority areas. He also emphasized on the officials taking the villagers living in the periphery of the reserve into confidence.

“For a villager, the death of a tiger is of less importance than the death of his buffalo. We should realize this,” Mr. Gehlot said. “There is a need for both educating them and also involving them in the protection of the reserve and the development activities,” he asserted.

The Chief Minister felt Ranthambhore National Park could be an example for Sariska as well. “In Ranthambhore tourism has helped to generate a lot of economic activity. Sariska too can work on some of those models,” he said.

But the day after PC 1, the unlucky male introduced to Sariska on June 28, 2008, after airlifting it from Ranthambhore, was cremated the good news was that the other male tiger-CP 4-is alive. Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) P.S. Somashekar informed The Hindu that fresh pugmarks of a male tiger were spotted in the Siliguri forest area on the Baletha section of the forest. “Since there is no other male tiger in the Reserve now we can assume that it is of CP 4,” he said. However, signals from the male tiger's radio collar remained weak.

“We have to see the tiger ourselves to assess its health,” Mr. Somashekar said. This aspect is important as the theory of a possible fight that had taken place between the two tigers remains. “The post- mortem reports remain inconclusive on the reason. We have to wait for the forensic report,” he said when asked about the theory of poisoning circulating now among some experts. “Poaching is ruled out and if it is not infighting then it could be due to poisoning, sickness or some other unknown reason. The animal was in good shape at the time of death,” Mr.Somashekar noted.

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