In the wake of the recent tiger poaching cases that came to light in Melghat and Nagpur, the Maharashtra government has announced a CBI probe into the matter. The probe will also cover similar cases that took place in Vidarbha between October 2012 and May 2013.
Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam made the announcement in the Legislative Council on Tuesday. Kadam said henceforth all cases of organised poaching would be handed over to the CBI.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, too, made a similar announcement at 'Save-the-tiger', a private campaign event organised with the forests department of the state government on Tuesday.
Principal Secretary, Forests, Pravin Pardeshi said heads of two organised poaching gangs were arrested recently and both had confessed to having their base in Punjab. "Forest department officials can't go to Punjab to investigate the modus operandi of these organised poachers. Tiger skins are systematically sent to Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and finally to Nepal. Since we have vital evidence in the recent poaching cases, such as body parts of tigers and the weapons used by the poachers, we want the CBI to take over the probe," he said.
Poaching cases have been found mostly in and around the Tadoba, Pench and Melghat reserves of Maharashtra. Sanctuary Asia Editor Bittu Sahgal said the population of tigers in the country had reduced to 1,800 from around 1, 00,000 in 1900.