POINTING TO an “alarming trend” of tiger deaths, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday asked if the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) could take over the management of the Corbett Tiger Reserve “as an interim measure”. The court also asked the NTCA if the tigers could be relocated “to save them from poaching”.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh expressed dissatisfaction with the state government’s inaction in dealing with tiger poaching incidents. It said the state government had failed to constitute a Special Tiger Protection Force despite the court’s order.
“As a last/ extreme measure, we seek the response of the NTCA, being the expert body, to take over the management of Corbett Tiger Reserve, as an interim measure, till the state government becomes alive to its duties and starts taking concrete decisions,” the court said.
Making a note of the “dwindling” tiger population in Corbett and Rajaji tiger reserves, and pointing out the alleged involvement of senior forest department officials in a tiger poaching incident in 2016, it asked the NTCA to suggest “whether few tigers can be relocated/ shifted to save them from poaching/ killing to other well-managed national parks/sanctuaries”.
On June 28 this year, Uttarakhand Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Jai Raj submitted a report to the state government holding former Uttarakhand Chief Wildlife Warden Digvijay Singh Khati and former Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) Director Samir Sinha responsible for “administrative laxity” that resulted in the poaching of five tigers in 2016 — four of these were from Corbett reserve.
The court had recently warned the state government that it may refer the tiger poaching case to the CBI.