Wildlife activists in Goa are incensed over a government report into a tiger poaching incident in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in February that states that the killed animal was not a tiger. Chief conservator of forests Goa, Shashi Kumar, in a selective leak to the media on Friday had said that forensic examination of the suspected tiger remains by the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehra Dun had revealed that the poached animal was not a tiger.
“Based on the samples sent, Wildlife Institute of India’s investigation prima facie shows that it is not a tiger. The preliminary report states that blood samples found on some leaves are also not of a tiger,” Kumar told a vernacular newspaper, adding that the much-delayed report was “preliminary” in nature and was still “being analyzed”.
Speaking to IANS Sunday, wildlife conservationist Rajendra Kerkar said the investigations by the forest department into the tiger poaching incident were dubious and that top officials were trying to hush up the poaching case.
“The animal which was killed is a protected animal under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. The investigation is a conspiracy to misguide people by the Goa forest department,” said Kerkar. He had broken the story of the poached tiger, with photographs in the Times of India in April this year, two months after the poaching occurred. Kerkar also said that tests carried out by the WII were “fudged” by forest department officials. “I have seen the tiger remains myself. The remains should be sent to another laboratory and the matter handled in a transparent manner,” he said.
Amrut Singh, a wildlife activist who runs the well-known Animal Rescue Squad based in Bicholim, North Goa, and who had accompanied forest department officials as a witness during the ‘panchanama’ proceedings in April at Keri, said that circumstantially it was beyond doubt that it was a tiger which was killed in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary. “The fur stuck to the boulder showed the place where the tiger was leaning on the rock,” Singh said. Forest department officials have also begun to question the forensic report, which they say is contradictory to the circumstantial evidence compiled in the four-month investigation.
“The WII took three months to send us a prima facie observation. It’s ridiculous. We generally get a preliminary report in a matter of two weeks. Vested interests are trying to scuttle the tiger poaching probe,” a senior forest department official alleged, adding that the terms of reference for the forensic examination were also “rigged”.