NTCA to hold independent enquiry into tiger deaths in state

Six big cats have died in Karnataka since January 3

NTCA to hold independent enquiry into tiger deaths in state

Karnataka has lost six tigers since January 3, 2017, and the way the forest department officials have handled the issue has not gone down well with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The NTCA is now conducting an independent assessment of all the tiger deaths.
P S Somashekar, Inspector General, NTCA, Southern Region, told DH: “We have asked the chief wildlife warden of the state to give a detailed report on how the deaths occurred. We have also directed the forest department to look into the issue. In the meantime, we are also collecting documents of each tiger and analysing the deaths.”

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has also taken note of the deaths and directed the NTCA to conduct an independent probe and submit a report to it.
According to the NTCA, the country lost 98 tigers in 2016 and of them 17 were from Karnataka. This year, India has lost nine tigers and six are from Karnataka alone.
Five tigers died in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve on January 3, 13, 17, 20 and 22 and one in Bandipur Tiger Reserve on January 13.

Another NTCA official pointed that there were many loopholes in the way the Forest department has been handling tiger deaths.

“It is learnt that junior officials are taking hasty decisions, without consulting their higher-ups. Proper protocols are not being followed while taking decisions. To ensure that there is no political or official interference in ascertaining the reasons for the deaths and, documenting them, we are conducting an independent assessment,” the official said.

Tigers dying naturally is common since their population is large. However, social
media is creating an impression that many tigers have died of unnatural reasons, he added.

The official said that earlier the National Tiger Conservation Authority member secretary Bhishan Singh Bonal had spoken to the Nagarahole forest staff and had asked them to submit a detailed report on tiger deaths. But so far no report has been filed.

“As it happened last year, the forest department may not submit a report on the tiger death cases this year also,” the official opined.

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