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NTCA for proper disposal of tiger carcasses

                                                             30th March, 2013, The Political and Busienss Daily, New Delhi

The Environment Ministry has directed tiger range states to ensure transparency in proper disposal of carcasses of the big cats and seized body parts to ensure that these are not used in illegal trade.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority's (NTCA) advisory to these states assumes significance in the context of new global reports claiming that illegal trade of body parts of tigers and leopards are rampant in the country and Delhi, Sunderbans, some places in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and the Western Ghats have emerged as hotspots.

The new standard operating procedure (SOP) asks the states to dispose of carcasses/body parts by incineration in the presence of the field director or an officer not below the rank of the conservator of forests besides the post mortem team having representation from civil society institution.

In case of seizure of body parts, the SOP says these may be required as evidence for prosecution in courts and hence these should do not be disposed till orders of the courts for their disposal are obtained.

Once orders have been obtained by the competent authority, the SOP says, the body parts should be reduced to ashes in the presence of competent wildlife officials.

While incinerating the carcass and the body parts the sequence must be photographed and video recorded.

"Before leaving the site, ensure that the whole carcass including bones are fully burnt," it says. "After ensuring the complete incineration of the carcass, prepare a 'panchnama' (memo) on disposal of the carcass/body parts, duly signed by the post mortem team and officer in- charge, and send a final report to the chief wildlife warden under intimation to the NTCA with supporting photographs and documents."

According to a recent joint report by global wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, the latest analysis of confiscations, which include new data for 2010-2012, "reveals that parts of more than 1,400 tigers have been seized across Asia in the past 13 years".