Two tigers were caught in steel traps set by professional tiger poachers in a heart-rending incident that took place yesterday in Palasgaon Range near Chandrapur in Maharashtra. One tiger died and the other has been rescued by the Forest Department with serious injuries.
The scene of the crime was a small pond in scrub forest, only 2.5 km from the nearest village Gondmohadi which also has a forest chowki. The Forest Department had been setting up camera traps there to monitor a tigress with her two cubs. On Thursday evening the guards noticed a young male tiger lying by the pool. It later transpired that it was caught in a steel jaw trap. The guards then noticed a second tiger, presumed to be the mother, caught in a trap on the opposite side of the bund. One of the guards got his foot caught in a third steel trap but managed to get out of the device by removing his shoe. The poachers had ringed the waterhole with the tiger traps. More forest staff soon arrived but they could do little to help. A third tiger which was lurking in the vicinity, menacingly snarled and charged at the rescue party in the fast fading light.
Senior forest officers and two Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) personnel rushed to the spot. Finally, at 3:15 am, nearly 8 hours after the trapped tigers were first seen, the forest officers managed to dart the trapped tiger that was still alive. To everyone’s surprise it turned out to be a large male tiger. The tiger was badly injured; three of the toes on its front leg had been torn off and its foot was fractured.
WPSI is now pulling out all stops to assist the Forest Department in its investigation to nab the culprits. Coming only a few days before the First Stocktaking Conference to review implementation of The Global Tiger Recovery Program in New Delhi from 15-17 May, this distressing incident illustrates that tiger poaching continues to be a major threat to the future of wild tigers.
Reward for info on tiger poachers
Subsequent to the shocking incident, the Chandrapur forest department and WPSI have announced separate cash prizes of Rs 10,000 each for any information about the poachers. WPSI has started distributing pamphlets seeking information on poachers in rural areas on Sunday, while the forest department would start a similar campaign on Monday. Any person giving information about poachers would get a prize of Rs 10,000 cash and his name will be kept secret, forest department and WPSI have assured. Those having information can contact DCF P Kalyankumar (9890954572) and ACF Raju Dhabekar (9422820770) to give information to forest department. Similarly, WPSI’s Central India director Nitin Desai (9422803037) can be contacted to reveal any information about poachers.