Forest Deptt forced to withdraw ‘Shoot at Sight’ order against tigress 

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Oct 2017 09:53:11

Staff Reporter,

After facing judicial wrath over the “shoot at sight” order passed by Chief Wildlife Warden on October 4 against the sub-adult tigress claimed as “man-eater’ by the authority, the Forest Department on Friday chose to withdraw the shooting order promising to make every effort to trap or tranquilise the menacing tigress. This is for the second time the department had to face the ignominy of withdrawing the order for not following guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) under which a tiger could be killed only after exhausting all efforts or trap, tranquilisation, relocation.

The Forest Department contended that during last two months, the tigress was moving near human habitat and killed two persons and injured two. The movement tracked through radio collar indicates that tigress was staying near human habitats and became a threat.

A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi grilled the forest department over the material produced before them in support of shooting order passed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) A K Mishra permitting the department to kill tigress (T-27-CUB-1) since she had tendency to attack human beings and domestic animals.

According to NTCA guidelines, under no circumstances a tiger should be killed unless it is habituated to human death and elimination of the tiger as “man eater” should be the last resort after exhausting all the options to capture him alive. Identity of the animal must be obtained through a committee constituted for the purpose, through camera trappings or direct sighting or pug impressions, besides collecting pieces of hair/ scats for DNA profiling.

Adv Kartik Shukul appearing for forest department produced panchanama, GPS location obtained since the menacing tigress was radio collared and stated that Chief Wildlife Warden himself had personally visited the spot and there was no doubt about identity of the tigress. Adv Akshay Naik appearing for intervenor former PCCF Biswajit Mujumdar also supported the order. The last order to shoot at site was also withdrawn since the SoPs laid down by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) were not followed. But this time, the PCCF, who is also called Chief Wildlife Warden, stated that identification of the tigress is not in question as she is already fitted with a radio collar which is facilitating monitoring of her regular movement.

The Forest Department had tranquilised the tigress, kept her at Gorewada Rescue Centre, radio collared her and tracked her movement to study the behaviour as per NTCA guidelines. The tendency of tigress to attack human beings has forced the authority to issue order under section 11 (1) of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to kill the tigress. The very same tigress had created havoc in Bramhapuri range after she killed two persons, injured other two and attacked domestic animals in the same areas during summer months.

However, the petitioner’s counsel Adv Tushar Mandlekar claimed that as per NTCA guidelines, a committee should take the decision and countered the argument that there was no doubt about identity of the sub-adult tigress responsible for two human deaths. There are several tigers in Bor reserve and mere GPS location of this tigress proves nothing, he stated.

The High Court also sought more credible evidence about the beast responsible for attacks against human beings and domestic animals. After it failed to satisfy the judicial scrutiny, the Forest department decided to withdraw the shoot at sight order. The High Court while permitting to withdraw the order, also permitted the PCCF to pass fresh orders at the earliest after following NTCA guidelines and procedure laid down.

The High Court while hearing an application moved by wild-life enthusiast Dr Jerryl Avinash Banait opposing killing of tigress, also asked the department to try to trap or tranquilise the tigress. In his order the PCCF (wildlife) had noted “After discussion with the forest officers in the field and the expert shooters and assessing the local terrain conditions and it is not possible to tranquilise, capture or translocate the said tigress.”Adv Tushar Mandlekar and Adv Rohan Malviya appeared for the petitioner. Adv Kartik Shukul (Forest Department) and ASGI Ulhas Aurangabadkar (Union) Adv Mugdha Chandurkar (NTCA), Adv Akshay Naik (Intervenor) represented
the respondents.