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NTCA issues new protocol on tiger mortality


THE TIMES OF INDIA
9 May 2009
Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN


NAGPUR: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which is facing severe criticism time and again due to rapid disposal of tiger carcasses by burning, has issued a fresh protocol for ensuring transparency in cases relating to tiger mortality.

The protocol issued to all the principal chief conservators of forests (PCCFs ) and field directors of tiger reserves is apart from the detailed advisory containing post-mortem format for carcasses of wild animals found inside the tiger reserves. All the tiger reserves have been asked to follow these guidelines meticulously in the interest of tiger conservation.

Rajesh Gopal, member-secretary of the NTCA, a statutory body under the ministry of environment & forests (MoEF), has advised forest officials to ensure that all tiger carcasses are preserved in a deep freeze till an independent team analyses the cause of death.

The protocol says that every tiger death should be thoroughly examined by an independent team, including an authorised representative of the NTCA, a veterinary officer of the tiger reserve or from the district, a non-governmental expert nominated by the chief wildlife warden.

Gopal has asked the concerned officials to immediately report incidents of tiger mortality by telephone/fax, followed by a detailed post-mortem report in the prescribed format along with the report of the independent team to the NTCA.

Presently, none the three tiger reserves in the region Tadoba-Andhari, Pench and Melghat have deep freeze facility. However, NTCA has decided to provide funds to procure a deep freeze fit for the size of a tiger and a generator along with accessories under the centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) of Project Tiger. "The directives will ensure minimum errors in the post-mortem process making it transparent," said Gopal.

"It's a good protocol," said Nitin Desai, Central India director for Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). "The presence of an expert at the time of post-mortem is necessary to know the exact cause of death. Many times vets fail to identify whether the tiger death was due to a failed poaching attempt. In such cases, if experts do not intervene, poachers get away with the crime," Desai added.

The WPSI director said that many vets are not exposed to remote wildlife areas where deaths occur. In such cases, they could get the wrong reasons for the death. The NTCA directions will bring in more transparency in the post-mortem process.

A section of conservationists on condition of anonymity say: "Some officials have a tendency to hide things and hence never let the truth come out. The protocol will now bring transparency in reasons for tiger mortality."

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