At a time when poaching of tigers is constantly on the rise, two successive incidents involving the connivance of forest staff/persons, deputed by forest department, in poaching from the two most tiger populous States of MP and Maharashtra has come as a shocker.
The expose of this alarming trend has raised question marks on the credibility of forest staff who are the ultimate protectors of forest and wildlife.

According to reports, three persons were recently caught around Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, with two tiger hides having gun shot wounds. Of the three arrested one was found to be a local forest guard.

Furhter details are expected in reports from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad regarding DNA and other tests. “This would help us to get some clue as to from where the two tigers have been killed,” since some tiger reserves are keeping DNA records of tigers.
In an earlier incident of tiger poaching from the buffer zone of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra a tiger carcass was found hacked to pieces. Five persons were arrested in this regard. It was found that the leader of the gang and his two sons, all from a local village, had been deployed by the forest department to monitor and guard water holes in areas under the jurisdiction of Forest Development Corporation of Maharshtra.

A senior official in the Environment Ministry expressed surprise as to how the respective forest officials there were actually ignorant of their involvement in these crimes. “How could the local officers be ignorant in the first place and how could such persons with dubious credentials be deputed for such jobs? he asked.

“The need of the hour is to increase the availability of information and coordination between the various inter-governmental agencies trying to control poaching,” said Khalid Pasha, who heads Traffic India, working to control wildlife crime in coordination with other agencies under Environment Ministry.

Wildlife crime is not a separate crime but it is very much like the other normal crimes the laws exist but the rate of convictions is very low, often due to the absence of proper evidence. “In most cases these criminals are repeat offenders who easily get out on bail,” he added.

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