P Naveen, TNN
BHOPAL: Cyber poachers are on the prowl in tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh, hacking into the satellite collars from faraway Pune.

Forest officials in Madhya Pradesh are foxed by the first-of-its-kind of cybercrime where poachers tried to breach the Iridium GPS Satellite Collar of a big cat in Satpura-Bori tiger reserve in Hoshangabad.

Cyber criminals broke into the login-ID of the account to which the location data of the collar-fitted tiger Panna-211 is sent via iridium satellite transceiver. Only three people have legal access to the location data of the tiger's collar - Dr K Ramesh, scientist with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun, Dr R Srinivas Murty, field director of Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) and Shekar, a senior research fellow at the reserve. MP forest officials who even fail to log cases on poaching, are in a fix to tackle this case. There are several questions dogging the forest department.

Who will lodge the complaint - Wildlife Institute of India (WII) which fitted the radio collar and secured the password for accessing data on the tiger's location, or authorities of PTR ? There is also confusion on whether the case should be registered under Section 66 (hacking for criminal purpose) of Information Technology (IT) Act or Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for a poaching attempt.
Principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and chief wildlife warden (CCF) Narendra Kumar said, "The complaint will be lodged by WII as the tiger was fitted with the collar by them".

But, Dr K Ramesh, scientist WII Dehradun, said the collar was handed over to MP forest officials and that they will log the case. "WII was not consulted when the Panna-211 was shifted to Satpura. There should have been a proper monitoring system in place. Still we will try to investigate hacking bid," he said.

R P Singh, director of Satpura-Bori National Park, had a different version. "Its password was with PTR officials, so they should register the case," he said.

The collar on Panna-211 - the code name for the tiger which was relocated recently from Panna reserve to Satpura - has stopped working from July 24.

Senior officials have been directed to keep track of the tiger's movements for the next six months.

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