The Rajasthan Forest Department has sounded a red alert in all reserves, sanctuaries and parks in the state after a tiger at the Ranthambore National Park was caught on camera with a wire noose around its neck.
The Tiger T-108 was caught in trap cameras at the reserve with a wire snare around its neck, leading to suspicion of poachers being active in the national park spread over 500 square miles in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, 175 km south east of Jaipur.
The tiger’s image with the wire around its neck was captured at two places Devpura and Acher which are 3 km apart in the reserve on Friday.
The Ranthambore officials sent a report on the incident to the chief wildlife warden along with a photo of the tiger and sought permission to tranquilise the tiger.
Acting Chief Wildlife Warden Arijit Banerjee then wrote to the National Tiger Conservation Authority to seek permission to tranquilise the tiger.
Tikam Chand Verma, chief conservator of forest, and field director, Ranthambore Tiger Project, denied that the loop around the tiger’s neck was meant for poaching.
“The loop was made of hard wire. Loops that are used for poaching are of soft wire. The villagers who live inside the reserve area, put up fencing and loops in their farms to protect their crops. This tiger lives in the periphery of the reserve and he could have ventured into the village,” said Verma.
He said the department officials had acted quickly after being informed of the incident. “We located the tiger on Friday evening and by Saturday morning, we tranquilised the tiger and took out the loop and released it into the wild. The tiger did not suffer any injury,” he said.
In the aftermath of the incident, Banerjee issued a statewide red alert and asked all department officials to intensify monitoring and patrolling in protected forest areas to check illegal activities. Leave of all officials has been cancelled. The alert will remain in force till February 2021, he said.
Conservation biologist at Tiger Watch, Dharmendra Kandal said the photos were found by a team of Tiger Watch and the forest department. He said the snare was loose around the tiger’s neck and was probably meant to trap nilgai or boar or sambhar.
BJP MP from Rajsamand Diya Kumari tweeted on the issue of poaching in Ranthambore. Kumari is a former MLA from Sawai Madhopur said the photo of T-108 has exposed the hollow claims of the state government on security in wildlife areas. She said the photo is proof that poachers are active in the national park.