'Tiger pics on social sites with place info spur wildlife crimes'

'Tiger pics on social sites with place info spur wildlife crimes'

'Tiger pics on social sites with place info spur wildlife crimes'
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) top brass has penned letters to the heads of all tiger reserves and to the chief wildlife wardens of all states to ensure that photographs of tigers and camera-trap pictures are not circulated on social media, by tagging along the name of the location.

This has come as good news for wildlife conservationists and officials. But they point out that implementing it will be a tough challenge.

NTCA letter

The letter dated June 17 and signed by Vaibhav C Mathew, assistant inspector general of forests (NTCA), a copy of which is with DH, says, “I am directed to say that this authority has received information of tiger photographs and camera-trap pictures being circulated on WhatsApp groups and Facebook, which inter alia are highlighting the said animal’s location. This information has the potential to be used for committing wildlife crimes. It is requested that no such photographs or information is shared on WhatsApp and Facebook.”

“We have found cases where camera traps have been set up by NGOs and in the urge to showcase their capabilities, photographs of the animals have been made public, while forgeting to hide the details. People should be sensitive and sensible,” said an NTCA official.

Officials in Project Tiger second this opinion and say the trend was noticed during the recent tiger census.

‘Up to state officials’

“It is a good step and the concern is genuine. But now, state forest officials have to see how they will implement it. There are some enthusiastic forest officials who are keen on publicity and share camera-trap images. While installation of camera is an advantage, it has also shown some disadvantages,” the official said.

P Annur Reddy, principal chief conservator of forests, wildlife, said generally officials and people are advised not to disclose the location.

“Common sense dictates the same as one cannot say what the implications will be. Taking photographs is fine and posting the forest patch is also okay, but not the range and the beat. We can generally request people, but we will have to see how it can be stopped. Apart from issuing an advisory to people in all forest patches, we will discuss the matter with the ministry, the NTCA and the central government to help curtail information on social media,” he said.

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