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3 national park directors transferred over disappearance of tigers

National, Thu, 21 May 2009 IANS

Bhopal, May 21 (IANS) Taking serious note of the decline in number of tigers in the state, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has transferred field directors of the Kanha, Panna and Bandhavgarh national parks with immediate effect, an official said Thursday.


'Reviewing wildlife conservation in the state at a meeting of senior forest department officials late Wednesday, the chief minister expressed displeasure over the prevailing situation on tiger conservation across the state and warned of strict action against slack officials,' a highly placed official told IANS.



Chouhan, the official said, has also sought details of tiger conservation efforts going on at Panna and other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state. He has also sought an early fact-finding report on the mysterious disappearance of tigers in Panna.



Madhya Pradesh's reputation as a 'tiger state' sustained a blow early this month when a four-member central inquiry committee, which included India's top wildlife experts, looked into the population of the big cats and officially announced that Panna Tiger Reserve was tiger-less since January.



After the Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan, this was the second tiger reserve in the country that was declared to be without a single tiger.



'It is regrettable that not even one tiger is left in Panna,' said committee chairman P.K. Sen, ex-director of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).



Sen also expressed surprise over the reserve's senior officials earlier saying that tigers were present and on the basis of their statement a tigress each was even shifted from Kanha and Bandhavgarh to the Panna Reserve (in March) to maintain the big cats' gender balance.



Soon after the NTCA report, the Madhya Pradesh government formed a committee to look into the disappearance of the big cats in Panna tiger reserve on the directives of the Minister of State for Forests Rajendra Shukla.



'We want to know the reasons which led to the disappearance of the tigers in Panna reserve and ensure that the big cat population is protected in Madhya Pradesh,' Shukla said.



The six-member committee formed include NTCA member secretary Rajesh Gopal, former director of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, H.S. Panwar, state principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) wildlife H.S. Pabla and former state PCCF J.J. Dutta.



The committee is looking into the disappearance of the big cats in Panna and would submit its report in three months and also moot ways to protect the tigers. The NTCA reported last year that only an estimate 1,410 tigers were left in the wild in India.


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