Singh had expressed deep concern over reports of poaching and disappearance of tigers in various sanctuaries, particularly Sariska and Ranthambhore Tiger reserves in Rajasthan in 2004, leading to the formation of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in December 2005 at the recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.
Concerned over the dwindling tiger population, the Prime Minister had on May 23, 2005, had sought first-hand information on the state of the country's reserves and sanctuaries.
"All is not well with the way we are managing our national parks... Disappearance of tigers is a matter of national concern," Dr. Singh had told a gathering of field directors from across India at Ranthambore.
"A stitch in time saves nine" is perhaps the best adage for the Prime Minister and the NTCA headed by him, before it is too late for all the big cats to disappear from NNPTR.
There is a dispute over the tiger population of 25 (14 in Tiger Reserve (PTR) and 11 in NNPTR in 2006, as against 61 shown in a census done by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2001-02.
PCCF B.S. Sajwan had said in October 2010 that the reported decline in tiger population was mainly due to encroachment in the buffer zone of the NNPTR by 84 families of Lisu tribe from across the border.
While the report of interception of a high level visiting team led by PCCF (Wildfire and biodiversity) JL Singh to NNPTR on February this year were fired upon four rounds in the core area to scare them away by suspected "Lisu poachers", though caused no harm to any one and the team was very happy at the ongoing census of tiger population, but an official report, took serious exception to such activities in the tiger reserve.
The recovery of few iron-made Burmese traps set up all along the routes that have pug marks of tigers, 24 memory cards and eight of the 80 cameras set up in a 300 sq km area by NGO Aranyak for the census stolen by these poachers were indication of a larger game plan as the NNPTR has a porous border with Myanmar, having trans-boundary and international ramifications, which the poachers undoubtedly did not want to expose.
It is learnt that a high level team of the NTCA headed by Dr Rajesh Gopal, besides five other members, including Prerna Bindra, member of National Wildlife Board, is expected to visit NNPTR to take stock of the situation. Dr Gopal has conveyed his intention to the state PCCF, but there was no intimation of the date.
It has further been learnt that a team of National Crime Control Bureau (NCCB) having expertise in tackling international smuggling of animals and their organs is expected to visit the state soon to assist the environment and forest department in dealing with such problems.
The NNP spread in 1,985 square kilometres in Changlang district bordering Myanmar and declared a tiger reserve in 1983 is one of the largest sanctuaries for the big cats in India, while the magnificent animals have been facing serious threat posed by the illegal settlers (Yobin or Lisu community) in its core area. By Pradeep Kumar (ANI)
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