Bringing the spotlight back on the serious crime of tiger poaching, the state government has issued a red alert, following an intelligence input that international smugglers have paid an advance to the Baheliya community to poach around 25 tigers in Maharashtra.
According to senior forest officials, field officers have already been asked to keep a check on the waterholes in the forest region, where poachers generally lay traps to catch the wild cats.
Chief wildlife warden of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in the Chandrapur district, S.W.H. Naqvi said, “We had received specific intelligence input on May 15 that poachers will be active in the state for killing tigers on May 15. Accordingly, a red alert has been issued in the state.”
Mr Naqvi said that all the field officers have been asked to stay alert and keep a tight vigil on the waterholes in the region.
Sources said that around `40 lakh has already been given to the poachers (the Baheliya community from Madhya Pradesh) to kill at least 25 tigers in the state because of the rising demand in China. However, Mr Naqvi remained noncommittal on the figures.
Moreover, a National Tiger Conservation Authority member Pandu Dhotre, who also runs an NGO in Tadoba for protection of tigers, said, “After we received the intelligence input, we deployed around 300 uniformed volunteers, who have been asked to remain alert. Our volunteers work in coordination with forest officers. We have asked our men to pass on information about any suspicious-looking persons found in and around the forest area.”
According to authorities, poachers generally lay traps near waterholes. During the summer, natural waterholes and other natural reservoirs of water in Tadoba-Andhari are likely to have dried up. Hence, most animals approach artificial waterholes in the reserve.
On April 27, a tiger was killed, while another sustained severe injuries to his leg and paw, after they fell prey to the jaw traps laid by poachers in the Palasgaon range in the reserve. A jaw trap of the kind laid in Tadoba-Andhari has a ring at the bottom, which forms the trigger for the jaws.
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