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Missing Bhopal tiger 'not dead', may get back its territory

The Times of India , Rajendra Sharma, 18th December 2015



BHOPAL: Amid rumours of missing Kaliasot tiger T1 being allegedly killed by poachers, state forest minister Gauri Shankar Shejwar has clarified that the tiger is alive and under surveillance of forest officials. "The tiger is very much alive, but pushed inside the dense forest to avoid confrontation with human being", Shejwar told TOI. The minister's statement came in view of an alarm recently sounded by the villagers of Kathotia forest area, in the vicinity of Kaliasot dam, about presence of the beast.


 "The big cat seem to have returned in it's territory, we heard him roaring during late night hours", a villager told the beat guard. The residents of Kerwa and Kaliasot areas spent many a sleepless nights since last two months when their animals started becoming tiger's prey. Later it came out to be T1 aka T22 of Ratapani sanctuary, which is located 40km away from the dam. Officials say proposals have been sent to declare this sanctuary as tiger national park for wild life conservation.


 After repeated sightings near state capital Bhopal, forest officials decided to shift the beast to a national park like they did in a previous case, where tiger of Samardha forest range found wandering inside Central Institute of Agriculture Engineering (CIAE) in Nabi Baugh area, was shifted to Panna tiger reserve after an eight-hour long rescue operation on October 30.


 But officials are divided over the course of action, with some arguing that the tiger has established its territory away from Ratapani sanctuary from where it is believed to have strayed. Now again the tiger T1 has been knocking at the Bhopal's doorstep. Officials have also surmised presence of T2 tigress in the vicinity.


 Taking up the issue to the High Court, wild life activist Ajay Dubey said it was the forest department unwilling to process the formation of Ratapani sanctuary to a national park. The sanctuary notified in 1976 and 1983 consists 910 square km area where tiger number has escalated from 6 to 27. "When the sanctuary has already declared various statutory restrictions and no non-forest activities, they are being carried out inside and outside the sanctuary without permission of state wild life protection board", alleged Dubey.


 The state government has also not taken any stand on formation of special tiger protection force since December 06, 2014, as declared, he said. Dubey claimed that Kaliasot and Kerwa forests come under tiger territory and as per recent sightings by villagers, both big cats, T1 and T2, are soon likely to return to their territory.