Stop tigers poaching: PM

Central Chronicle , Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Correspondent : Agencies
Ranthambhore, May 24 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said strict actions were needed to check poaching of tigers. He also stressed on evolving a long-term strategy for reducing human pressure on forests. Singh, who spotted a tigress in his early morning safari in the Ranthambore national park, said "we need to deal strictly with poaching.We need a more effective strategy for tackling poaching and smuggling." He called for equipping forest officials and making available adequate funds for protecting the national heritage. The Prime Minister, along with his wife Gursharan Kaur, spent around two-and-half hours in the park. Singh, who discussed the problem of dwindling number of tigers with forest officials and locals, said forest park management and human interface with forests were the two biggest challenges. "Shortage of funds, vehicles, work load and poaching were discussed." The force manning the forests are short-staffed, over-aged and lack facilities, he said. Alternative livelihood needs to be provided to local population dependent on forests for their livelihood so as to ease pressure on forests, Singh said. "We need a long-term strategy. We must find more effective ways and means of reducing human population dependence on forest systems," he added. Singh said he had constituted a Tiger Task Force and would await its report suggesting specific actions by the government to curb poaching. He, however, did not say when the report was expected. Mr Singh described the situation as "problematic" and emphasised on the need for improvement in national parks management in the country. He said the challenges appeared to be of two distinct categories -- one related to forest parks management and the other related to forest-human interface. "Our forest parks management needs to be improved through better physical, financial, managerial and technical resources so that they can perform their tasks more effectively", he said. Noting that he had come on a learning mission and not to find faults, Singh said a lot needs to be done and strict action was required to check poaching. "Things are not as they should be," he said. Manmohan's encounter with big cat Ranthambore, May 24 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday saw a tiger during his safari in the Ranthambore National Park - his first sighting of the big cat in the wild. "It is the first time I saw a tiger in the wild," the PM said later at the Vanyavilas Hotel on the fringes of the park. The PM along with his wife Gursharan Kaur, spent around two-and-a-half hours in the park. He went to the park at around 6 am and returned at around 8.30 am. Manmohan Singh looked cheerful after sighting the tiger, one of the jeep drivers who had gone with the Prime Minister inside the park said. The tiger population in the Sariska National Park, also in Rajasthan, has reportedly dwindled due to poaching. In 1974, 14 tigers were counted during the wildlife census in Ranthambore. The numbers went up to 47 in 2004. The latest census, being carried out currently in the park, is now almost over. A final report is likely to be submitted in a month. PM ignores Oppn ire on Bihar Ranthambore, May 24 Brushing aside the Opposition ire on the Centre's action in Bihar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said "horse-trading of the worst type" was taking place in the state. Addressing a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to the Ranthambore tiger reserve, he said, "Three months have passed since the elections were held. No government has been formed in the state. "An atmosphere was created in which horse-trading of the worst type was taking place. In this situation, it is the constitutional duty of the Government to see that such nefarious practices do not spoil the good name of the country." The Prime Minister said, "That is how the Governor of the state made the recommendation that there is no alternative but to dissolve the assembly." Pointing out that even newspapers had reported horse-trading on a large-scale in Bihar for the past many days, he said Governor Buta Singh had submitted more than one report on the situation in the state. "So, I think, we had credible evidence that there is no other way to deal with this problem than by dissolving the legislative assembly," he said.
SOURCE : Central Chronicle, Wednesday, May 25, 2005

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