Panaji : Renowned wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar has been named by the Goa forest department as an abettor in the killing of a tiger. However, Kerkar denied the charge.
Kerkar, a tireless green activist and a journalist, has repeatedly accused top officials of the Goa forest department of sabotaging the tiger poaching probe.
The activist had first exposed the tiger poaching incident in a newspaper article along with a photograph of the poached tiger in March, nearly a month after the animal was trapped and shot dead in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in north Goa, 60 km from here.
Tiger poaching investigation documents seen by IANS show Kerkar’s name slotted as an abettor to the tiger-killing along with the accused persons – Suryakant Majik and Gopal Majik, residents of Majikwaddo in Sattari. Gopal Majik has a criminal history of poaching wild animals.
Kerkar said he was not surprised by the forest department’s action. “They are not interested in solving the case. They are only interested in covering the poaching incident to save their skins,” he added.
Chief conservator of wildlife, Shashi Kumar, had earlier accused Kerkar of sheltering the accused in the poaching case by not revealing who had given him the photograph of the poached tiger.
“Why is he not coming forward with the name of the person who gave him the photograph,” Kumar had told IANS a few weeks after the tiger killing last year.
Kerkar said he was within his rights to defend his journalistic sources.
“I reported the tiger killing story as a journalist. The photograph was given to me by my sources. There were so many other clues which the forest department has glossed over. They are just making excuses,” Kerkar said.
When asked to comment on the inclusion of Kerkar’s name as an abettor, Kumar now maintains that he is not in a position to comment. “The case is being investigated. I cannot say anything now,” Kumar said.
There are reportedly only 1,411 tigers left in Indian forests.