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Govt orders probe into missing Panna tiger




TIMES OF INDIA
28 March 2009

JABALPUR: The Union government has ordered a probe into the disappearance of the lone tiger at the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. The big cat has not been sighted for the last 25 days even after two tigresses were released in the park.

Sources said a four-member special investigation team headed by wildlife expert and former director of Project Tiger P K Sen would investigate the case. The other members of the team are officials from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Taking a cue from Sariska Tiger Reserve, the Madhya Pradesh forest department had shifted two tigresses, one each from Bandhavgarh National Park and Kanha National Park, to Panna National Park. Until six years ago, Panna had reportedly 40 tigers.

Even while two tigresses were being shifted, reports said ‘the lone tiger' had wandered away to forest areas of Chhattarpur. The reports also said the tiger was spotted in the forests of Chhattarpur.

Sources said the Centre ordered the probe after it came to know that the state forest department was contemplating to shift a male tiger to the Panna park in an attempt to cover up the fact that `the tiger existed in Panna only on paper'.

Field director of Panna Tiger Reserve L K Chaudhary told TOI on Friday that he was committed to reviving the lost glory of the park. Asked about the probe, he said he was aware of it and added he would still try to get a tiger shifted to the park. 3

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