Rising tiger deaths in Madhya Pradesh and the challenge of tiger protection

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Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh, which is recognised as the Tiger State and boasts of some of the best tiger habitats in the country stretching across the the Central Indian Highlands, is confronted with rising incidence of tiger deaths and the challenge of protecting tigers and other wildlife in the Tiger Reserves and other forest areas due to serious lapses with regard to wildlife protection.

The tiger crisis has been flagged by the State Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Alok Kumar through a letter addressed to all Chief Conservators of forests, Field Director of Tiger Reserves, Directors of National Parks, CCFs Wildlife Sanctuaries, forest officers.and DFOs.

Drawing attention to an earlier letter of 20 August 2020 regarding necessary steps to strengthen the protection of wildlife. the PCCF (Wildlife) has spelt out action that is required to strengthen the safety of wildlife

While observing that it is a matter of great regret that despite the instructions issued from time to time in the past,  protection of wildlife is being neglected, the PCCF (W) has drawn attention to the recent death of a tiger in Panna Tiger Reserve and the death of a tigress in a vehicle accident and its cub under mysterious circumstances in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and the suspected death of a tiger in the North Shahdol forest division on 14 November 2020. Not only this, the bodies of dead tigers are being found in such a decomposed condition that their autopsy is also not possible, he has pointed out.

The prevailing situation is a cause for serious concern, the PCCF (W) has observed adding effective steps are not being taken to protect the tigers in protected areas and other forest areas, due to which the number of deaths of tigers at the state level has gone up. It is a matter of great concern that despite Madhya Pradesh being the tiger State, effective steps are not being taken for tiger protection/ prevention of poaching / death from power lines, death in road accidents etc. Hence in all the tiger reserves, national parks, sanctuaries and and adjoining forests of the state where tigers, leopard, bear etc have been reported or sighted, special campaign should be launched to maintain the safety of wild animals and to prevent wild life crimes

In a stern message, the PCCF (W) has warned of stringent action against the officer / employee concerned if negligence is found in the protection of tigers / other wildlife. In order to keep the state of Madhya Pradesh at the forefront in terms of tiger population, work has been done by the staff / officers of the state Forest department with dedication. In order to maintain this reputation, more effective efforts are needed to strengthen the protection of wild animals, especially tigers, it has been emphasised.

The following guidelines have been issued by the office of the PCCf (Wildlife) to maintain the safety of wildlife.

In order to protect tigers, regular monitoring works in protected areas / regional forests areas should be done effectively at the beat level. Many days after the death of tigers their bodies have been found in a decomposed state. There is delay in informing the headquarters. Acting promptly in the cases of tiger deaths, this office and the NTCA should be informed within 24 hours. Be sure to take legal action by assigning responsibility for late notifications.

Regular meetings of district level task force be organized for protection of forests and wildlife.

Regular monitoring of power lines passing through protected areas and surrounding forest areas should be ensured and tripping of power lines should also be monitored in coordination with the Electricity department. There should not be any poaching with electric wires in the agriculture fields.

Special care should be taken and patrolling / surveillance should be strengthened in such areas

In the PAs, there should be regular monthly meetings of Eco Development Committees with proper dialogue and there should be a review of these meetings

Dog squads should be fully utilized to solve forest and wild crime casesand they can act as deterrent against crime.

The weekly and monthly limit for patrolling by foot should be fixed for Officers at all levels and the performance should be reviewed every month by the
Director / Officer-in-Charge Divisional Forest office. In sensitive areas like river streams, water bodies, natural salt lick caves and nearby plains patrollking on foot should be done compulsorily.

Payment of compensation for loss of life, injury and cattle loss in the vicinity of the protected area should be within the time limit as per the rules. Also, it should be ensured that animals killed by tigers and leopards are not poisoned by poachers. In case of crop loss, the field staff should extend full cooperation when it comes to filing the application by the concerned person and registering of case at the competent level in the revenue department. 

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