NEW DELHI – (AP) — Indian authorities set fire Sunday to a stockpile of tiger skins, elephant tusks, rhino horns and other illegal animal parts in an effort to discourage wildlife smuggling in South Asia.
Animal poaching and smuggling have flourished in India, driven by black market demand from China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries where many believe exotic animal parts have medicinal or aphrodisiacal properties. In most cases, there is no scientific evidence that they do.
Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar loaded more than 42,000 illegal animal parts into a large, blazing oven at the Delhi Zoo. The parts included tiger and leopard pelts, reptile skins, rhino horns and shawls made from endangered Tibetan antelope called shahtoosh.
Hyderabad: Tiger mortality is increasing at an alarming rate across the country with three tiger killings reported this year at the Nagarjunasagar Srisa-ilam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) that falls in AP and Telangana.
In the last eight months at least 49 tigers were killed and eight tiger skins were seized against 68 last year. Wildlife experts said that poaching has increased due to lack of surveillance in AP and Telangana post split.
Other southern states like TN and Karnataka also reported more killings than northern ones except MP. Most of the cases are still under investigation and culprits have not been caught yet.
Last January 23 a tiger was poached in the Telangana NSTR. Police arrested the culprit and are in the process of filing the charge sheet. In August 23 two tiger skins were seized in the AP NSTR.
Wildlife activist Devidas Manghnani says, “We have reports that the culprit who skinned the tiger is free. Tigers are openly killed and government agencies fail to catch the culprits. A seized skin indicates the department’s failure.” He added, “The forest department lacks focus. The morale of ground level staffers are low. They complained to me that higher ups do not make rounds.”
NSTR field director Rahul Pandey said, “There are no organised gangs in the state. If it is an organised gang they will sell it in three days. In this case they stocked it for three months.” Admitting that poaching is on the rise Mr Pandey said, “As we have stepped up monitoring the reporting of tiger deaths have increased.”
Apart from poaching, contaminated waterholes, wild dog attacks on cubs and denial of compensation to villagers are other reasons for tiger deaths. Wildlife tranquilising expert Nawab Shafath Ali Khan says, “The tribals’ right to compensation in case of wildlife attacks is rejected by officials. This is alienating the common man.”
When they don’t receive compensation they poison carcasses of cattle and it kills animals like tigers, hyenas, boars, jackals and vultures at one stroke. He said that the 2006 amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act has not been implemented. Gram sabhas and local stakeholders have to be involved more. He said, “The population explosion of bulls, monkeys and wild dogs is posing a threat to wildlife.” (Source: Deccan Chronicle, Via: SST).