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| Last Updated:23/01/2020

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Support builds up for Ranthambore tiger


                                                                                                                            The Times of India, Pune, Pune, 25th May, 2015

PUNE: Wildlife lovers D Sanjay and Angshuman Sarkar have never met before, but over the last 10 days have been in constant communication and finally met here on Sunday at a candle-light demonstration to protest against the manner in which tiger T24 (Ustad) was shifted from the Ranthambore National Park.

What began as a protest campaign on social media - online petitions and groups on Facebook - has spilled over onto the streets with similar demonstrations being held in cities across the country.

"The manner in which the tiger was shifted, without following the due process, is shocking. It sets a dangerous precedent. We are protesting because we want to ensure that tigers stay in the jungle," said Sarkar, who drove down from Mumbai to attend the protest.

"What has happened in Ranthambore is dangerous because a powerful tourism lobby has managed to get Ustad shifted out of the forest even as the state's forest minister (Raj Kumar Rinwa) were kept in the dark," said Sanjay.

He pointed out that the evidence that Ustad was a "man-eater" as alleged by the forest authorities was very thin. "He is believed to be aggressive, but there are a maximum of four attacks that have been attributed to him. Of these there is no evidence for three attacks. Moreover, all of them occurred deep inside the forest area. If was not as if he has gone to inhabited areas attacking people. Is this the behaviour of a man-eater?"

"Tourists have taken photographs of him. If it was suspected that he was a man-eater how were they allowed to come so close," he asked.

Sri Joshi, who returned from Ranthambore earlier in the day, said that there is a road leading to the temple that goes past very close to the spot of the incident. Pilgrims go down that road every week, but there has never been an attack, he said.

"In Ranthambore the guides want that Ustad should be brought back. Another tiger (T-57) has already starting marking the area. If he were to come in, he will most certainly kill Ustad's cubs. Thus it isn't just one tiger, but the lives of three tigers at stake here," he said.

A petition has been filed and the High Court is scheduled to hear the matter on May 28.

"We have faith in the judiciary and hope that there will be justice for Ustad. In the meantime we want to create awareness about how he has been treated," Sanjay said. "For me it is a matter of passion. I love the forests and don't want to see its inhabitants disappearing," said Warada Bhide as she lit a candle for Ustad.