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NGO opposes move to shift tigers from MP to Sariska reserve

Deccan Herald, New Delhi, 13th April, 2013

Protesting the proposed move of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to shift few tigers from Madhya Pradesh to Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan to arrest their dwindling population in the desert state, an NGO working for the conservation of big cats, has requested the Centre to intervene in the matter.

In a letter to Union  environment and forest minister Jayanti Natrajan, NGO 'Prayatna' highlighted documents sourced through RTI stating that NTCA under some political pressure has instructed the Madhya Pradesh government to shift tigers from the state to Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, terming the move as "very disturbing".

"We strongly object to the step taken by NTCA and have requested the Union minister for immediate intervention in the matter as Madhya Pradesh not only lost the coveted tiger state status in the last census to Karnataka, but also it was unable to protect its big cats in the wild which resulted in poaching/natural death of 16 tigers including three tigress and two cubs in 2012," Prayatna secretary, Ajay Dube said.

Dube further informed on the basis of RTI, that acting on the NTCA letter dated March 8, referring to its Technical Committee meeting, dated February 27, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) wildlife, Dr PK Shukla has requested the NTCA to take an opinion of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradoon on the issue of shifting tigers from Madhya Pradesh to Sariska.

However, Dube said that in the light of state losing 16 tigers in just 2012, the forest authorities should have protested the move. Instead, they have just requested NTCA to take WII's opinion on the matter, he said.

The NGO also highlighted the fact that in 2010, a tiger was shifted from Ranthambore to Sariska Tiger Reserve to revive the tiger population in it as it had lost all its big cats by 2005, but that tiger named S-1 was killed by poisoning, allegedly by  mining mafia and in 2012, a panther was also killed by them.

"There is no guarantee of safety of our tigers in Sariska in such a scenario," he said adding "even the then Union Minister for Environment and Forest, Jairam Ramesh had highlighted the issue of illegal mining in Sariska."

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Sartaj Singh when contacted on the issue, said that a proposal was going on to shift a tiger from the state to Sariska under exchange programme and also added that it was necessary for breeding purpose because of genetic reasons.

However, Dube alleged that the Minister is trying to mislead the state on the issue as exchange programme is confined to between zoos only and is not practical under wild conditions.