The Telegraph
Friday , August 1 , 2014
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Jumbo poisoned, sniffer dogs idle

Ranchi, July 31: Palamau Tiger Reserve’s gentle giant Ganesh was fatally poisoned—not shot dead as foresters suspected yesterday — by poachers, which means the 50-year-old tusker met with a painful end, but this apart, national park authorities have not got any other breakthrough into the crime.

PTR director S.E.H. Kazmi, who rushed to Palamau yesterday, ruled out shooting. “No bullet wound was found on the carcass. We suspect poison,” he told The Telegraph today.

Wildlife activist D.S. Srivastava, who also went to Palamau, agreed poison was strongly indicated. “We found jaggery near where Ganesh lay dead, close to Biya Chiraan nullah, a hilly stream in the Baresand range of the reserve. Elephants love jaggery. Possibly, poison was mixed with it as a trap for Ganesh. We have sent a sample for testing,” he said, adding that it had been sent to a government vet in Daltonganj conducting the post-mortem on the carcass.

This apart, PTR authorities are largely clueless. The forest department has not even pressed its prized canine squad to sniff the so-far fresh trail.

Four years ago, Wildlife Control Bureau (WCCB) gave the state forest department two sniffer dogs Tiger and Tracy to track wildlife-related crimes. Both trained at Special Armed Force (SAF) Dog Training Academy in Bhopal, Tiger was deputed in PTR while its canine colleague Tracy was sent to Dalma. Currently, both are at PTR but sitting idle.

Asked why the sniffer dogs have not been pressed, Kazmi said briefly: “No, we haven’t used them yet. We will if the need arises. We are trying to nab culprits by taking local help.”

A forester expressed surprise. “I thought the dogs would be pressed into service immediately. That’s the basic thing to do as dogs pick up fresh clues much faster.” He added that Tracy helped Dalma authorities bust an elephant poaching racket within 24 hours.

Another official said sniffer dogs had not been used for regular patrol, either.

Wildlife expert Srivastava said the first thing he asked PTR officials yesterday was if the dogs were deployed. “They said no and reasoned the dogs might not do anything useful as many villagers would have touched the carcass. It was a lame excuse,” he said.