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Goa forest department drags feet in tiger poaching case


Panaji : Nearly two weeks after the Dehradun-based Wildlife institute of India (WII) sent back a forensic analysis confirming that the samples sent by the Goa forest department were indeed that of a tiger, the department continues to drag its feet in its probe into a poaching case.

“I have seen the report only today. It confirms that one of the seven samples is that of a tiger. But whatever report has come, we will have internal discussions on it,” Chief Conservator of Forest Shashi Kumar said, adding that the department had still not analyzed the document.

A tiger was killed by poachers at the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in February last year. The carcass was later charred by the poachers to eliminate evidence of the poached Schedule 1 animal.

A few samples which were salvaged by the local range forest officer were later sent to the WII for forensic examination.

When asked if the confirmation in the forensic report would have any bearing on the speed and thrust of the investigation into the tiger poaching, Kumar said: “I will not be in a position to say where we are going. But we will reach a conclusive end.”

The role of the forest department, especially its top officials, has been under a cloud of suspicion as wildlife activists claimed that efforts were made by the officials initially to cover up the poaching. Forest officials, including Kumar, were initially unwilling to admit that a tiger had been poached in Goan jungles.

Kumar even told the media in September that he was in receipt of a preliminary report from the WII which said that the poached animal was not a tiger — a report which he was not willing to show to the media.

Renowned wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar, who first reported the tiger poaching story in the local media along with a photograph, has maintained that some forest department officials were trying to mislead the probe.

“Right from the beginning the forest department has been trying to derail the probe,” Kerkar said.

Two people, professional hunters living near the sanctuary, have already been arrested in the case. Both are currently out on bail.

Incidentally, three forest officials probing the poaching case have also been booked for allegedly torturing and harassing the people arrested in the poaching case.