| The seized tiger skin. Courtesy: The report Identification of a Tiger Skin Recovered at Gelephu Town by Royal Manas National Park Authorities, Bhutan
Guwahati, Oct. 16: The National Tiger Conservation Authority, which is investigating the case of a tiger skin seizure in Bhutan last month, has asked the neighbouring country for a clear photograph of the tiger skin and the statements of the culprits arrested.
A delayed report reaching here said two Indian nationals were arrested by the Forest Protection and Surveillance Unit, Bhutan, at Gelephu on September 20 with tiger skin and bones.
“One tiger skin was seized in Bhutan and two Indians were arrested and penalised,” a source in the NTCA said, adding that they had requested for the photographs and statements before taking action.
A report prepared by M. Firoz Ahmed of Aaranyak, Jimmy Borah of WWF India’s tiger conservation programme and Yeshi Wangdi of Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan, on Identification of a tiger skin recovered at Gelephu town by authorities of Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan, says the tiger, the skin of which is in the custody of Bhutan, was first photo-captured in that country on November 18, 2010 and last at Bansbari range of Manas National Park in India on November 27, 2012.
The report was shared with the NTCA and submitted to the department of forest and park services, ministry of agriculture, Bhutan, early this month.
“The individual (tiger) was photo-captured multiple times on both sides of the border, indicating that it was actively using the area,” the report says. Since Manas National Park and Royal Manas National Park are contiguous, tigers move from one park to the other.
This tiger was also described in the report, Tigers Across Borders, brought out in 2012 by the forest departments of both the countries with assistance from conservation organisations of both the countries.
The combined database of the tigers in Manas landscape is possible because of the joint collaboration of Aaranyak, WWF India, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment and the Bodoland Territorial Council in India, and the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment, Bhutan Foundation and the department of forest and park services in the neighbouring country.
Sources said the NTCA wanted to send a team from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India to crack the network but the Bhutan government had declined, saying it had made thorough investigations and penalised the offenders under its Forest and Nature Conservation Act, 1995 and Rules, 2006.
It said it would liase with relevant agencies and seek the support of its counterparts across the border as and when needed to enforce the act and curb wildlife crime.
The report says the tigers of Manas National Park have been vulnerable to poaching and calls for joint initiatives like patrolling, sharing of information about illegal activities, for more effective conservation efforts. “We also suggest that the joint monitoring across the borders should continue to generate important information on tigers as well as other wildlife species,” it says.
Top officials of both the countries had met on February 20 this year to discuss joint conservation efforts.