Fishermen take to baiting tigers in Pench reserve

Jun 29, 2017, 13:20 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Wildlife photographer snaps fishing activity in lake inside reserve, against SC orders; remains of at least two cubs recovered from fishermen

Two fishermen were captured with the remains of at least two tiger cubs
Two fishermen were captured with the remains of at least two tiger cubs

It turns out that fish are not the only creatures falling into the illegal net of local fishermen in the Pench tiger reserve. On Monday, the remains of what appeared to be three tiger cubs were found in the possession of two local fishermen.

Shockingly, the authorities have failed to put an end to fishing in the national park, despite a Supreme Court ban on such activities in a tiger reserve. A wildlife photographer captured several images of anglers brazenly fishing in the Totladoh reservoir in the core forest of Pench, Maharashtra.

Sarosh Lodhi, from Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (CLaW), a famous group of wildlife photographers on Facebook, said, "One of our members clicked the photographs, which speak of gross violations within the park. We have urged our members to share these images so that the authorities are exposed and are forced to take action."

Illegal fishing is rampant inside the tiger reserve and has been captured on camera as well
Illegal fishing is rampant inside the tiger reserve and has been captured on camera as well

Threat to tigers
Tuesday's discovery of the cubs' remains has shown that this apathy is not just killing the park's fish, but also its tigers. Forest department officials found two teeth and 12 claws in the possession of two fishermen — Babulal Kumar and Devidas Kumar, resident s of Usripaar. Officials from Pench Maharashtra had been tipped off about a gang dealing in the tiger parts in Usripaar. They posed as customers and went to the accused's home to take a look at the merchandise. The officials arrested him red-handed when he brought out the tiger claws.

During interrogation, the accused admitted to fishing illegally in the reservoir, as well as poaching tigers there. The samples will be put through a DNA test to determine exactly how many tigers the parts belong to and how old they were. The FD is also questioning the accused to learn what became of the tiger pelts. Both the accused have been remanded to the forest department's custody till July 1.

Lodhi said, "The fishermen are not only illegally fishing in the Pench reserve in Maharashtra and MP, but they also camp in the forest, with the authorities turning a blind eye to this menace. On Tuesday, the remains of two to three cubs were found in possession of the fishermen; we don't know how many more the fishermen have killed." "It's perplexing why no concrete steps have been taken to prevent this, despite the SC ban on fishing in tiger reserves. All this time, we have been wondering where all the tigers are disappearing to," he added.

Fishing mafia
Honorary wildlife warden of Nagpur, Roheet Karoo said, "The issue of illegal fishing in the Totladoh reservoir inside the core forest of Pench is not a small issue — there is a big fishing mafia involved, and the forest department alone cannot deal with them. There needs to be proper coordination between the local police and officials of PTR-Maharashtra and PTR-MP, because the fishing mafia are involved from both states."

Field Director of the tiger reserve, Rishikesh Ranjan was unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts to contact him.

40 Approx no. of tigers in the park and buffer zone

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