In an act which tiger experts termed as ‘capital punishment without a fair trial’, the Rajasthan forest authorities on Saturday sent the Ranthambore tiger T-24 to Sajjangarh Biological Park in the outskirts of Udaipur, around 400 km away from his territory.
The move prompted a protest rally by tiger lovers and experts, who called it a black day in the history of wildlife, in Jaipur on Saturday evening.
The move is a U-turn from stand maintained by the government till Friday, when Minister of State for Forests Raj Kumar Rinwa said T-24 would not be shifted to a zoo or park till a committee of experts submitted a report on the matter. Rinwa had told MAIL TODAY that the committee would be set up after Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was in New Delhi, returned to the state.
However, Rinwa was not taken into confidence before shifting T-24, also known as Ustaad. The minister did not take telephone calls on Saturday.
Ustaad was shifted to Sajjangarh by road after being tranquilised. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve’s field director Y.K. Sahu told the media that the wild cat was shifted on the basis of a report suggesting the same.
However, tiger expert Dhirendra Godha called the report as “bogus” as it was prepared by reserve’s officers under pressure from the tourism lobby.
Rajasthan’s former principal chief conservator of forests R.N. Mehrotra alleged that Ustaad would be kept in a cage in Sajjangarh without following the standard operating procedure as suggested by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
“The park was made out of a zoo during my tenure,” Mehrotra recalled. According to the NTCA, a big cat could be shifted to a zoo only after a detailed inquiry by a committee of well-known experts, as Rinwa had suggested. “No such detailed inquiry was conducted,” Mehrotra asserted.
T-24’s fate was uncertain after it killed forest guard Rampal Saini on May 8.