Making The World Aware of the Plight of the World's Greatest Cats and Their Fight to Prevent Extinction
[India News]: Jaipur, March 20 : Wildlife experts are happy at the centre's decision to institute a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the disappearance of tigers from protected forests.
Fateh Singh Rathore, a leading conservationist who lives in Ranthambore, said the enquiry would be like a post mortem examinations.
"It will certainly help us in knowing what actually happened. I think it is a good step," Rathore told IANS on telephone.
Alarmed by reports of a rapid fall in the tiger population at reserved forests in Rajasthan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week ordered a CBI probe and created a new task force to save the endangered cats.
Rathore said the central government should take control of all tiger parks across the country and the state governments should no longer administer these.
Congress legislator Chandrashekhar Baid said Rajasthan's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government should be held responsible for the immense damage done to Sariska and Keoladeo National Parks.
Sariska and Ranthambore were considered to be
home to nearly half the country's tiger population. But media reports
have quoted forest officials as saying that tiger sightings in the sanctuaries
have become rare.
The state government, however, is sore over the decision for a CBI probe, with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje expressing her displeasure.
"We were not consulted on the matter," Raje said. "The central government should at least have taken us into confidence before instituting an inquiry."
Rajasthan's Forest and Environment Minister Laxmi Narain Dave, while expressing unhappiness at the issue, said the state government was capable of conducting investigations.
The state government, besides setting up a task force to look into the tiger controversy, has launched a probe into the dwindling population of the cats.
But Manohar Singh, another wildlife expert, hailed the central government's decision and questioned the methodology used for conducting tiger censuses.
"These are done in a most unscientific way. And the officials responsible for carrying out the census, to save their skins, only want to prove that the tiger population has gone up," Singh said.
The government should take up the censuses in a more scientific manner and depute people with knowledge of tigers to undertake them, Singh said.
Two years ago, a wildlife census had counted 25 tigers in Sariska, which came down to 16-18 last year. Over the past eight months, no tiger has been spotted in the sanctuary.
The task force set up by the state government to look into the matter has found evidence of poaching in Sariska.
--Indo-Asian News Service
The tiger is one of the most endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the major threat to the species is illegal trade. But the CITES Standing Committee, composed of 30 member nations from around the world, wrapped up a five-day meeting today without taking any concerted action on what has been called a tiger crisis in Asia.
Instead of agreeing to proposals for international action, the Parties decided to simply discuss the tiger crisis again next June, when the full CITES body convenes in The Netherlands. Parties did decide to send a technical enforcement mission from the CITES Secretariat to China to look into enforcement of this trade, but it is not enough, the environmental organizations said.
“We are disappointed by the lack of leadership displayed here this week and the lack of commitment to conservation by the CITES Standing Committee member nations,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme. “The biggest problem facing tigers today is illegal trade between India and China, yet neither country showed the willingness to step up efforts to tackle this urgent problem. How bad does it need to get for tigers before governments take the necessary action?”
Tiger populations have long suffered from poaching. But an increasingly affluent middle class in China has increased demand for tiger skins, used mainly as trophies and clothing, and body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine. India has lost an unknown number of tigers to poachers in recent years to fuel this demand across the border with China, with some national tiger reserves in India now devoid of tigers altogether.
“A suggestion was on the table this week to convene a high-level law enforcement meeting with all of the tiger range states and to come up with a process to measure how well recommendations made by CITES parties in the late 1990s were being implemented,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. “Instead, the delegates decided to do nothing for nine more months. The world’s tigers can’t wait another nine months.”
The countries sending delegates to this week’s meeting include China, India, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Chile, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Saudia Arabia, Germany, UK, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Canada, Australia, United States of America, Italy, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Disclaimer:The opinions expressed in this or any of our columns represent the opinions of the writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Magic Web Channel or it's Esteemed Panel of Magic Advisors. (The lawyers made us say that.)
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