Madhya Pradesh launches probe into alleged irregularities, poaching in new tiger reserve

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh government has initiated an inquiry into the alleged poaching of tigers and irregularities in the newly established Veerangana Durgavati Tiger Reserve, according to official documents.

The reserve, the seventh in the state and the 54th in India, includes areas within the Nauradehi Sanctuary and the Veerangana Durgavati Sanctuary. Located around 20 kilometres from Bhopal, it covers 2,339 square kilometres and spans three districts: Narsinghpur, Sagar, and Damoh.

An official order said that the forest department launched the probe following an email from wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who alleged "serious negligence in the conservation of tigers, tiger safari and management of forest property" in the reserve.

The forest department has directed the deputy director of the tiger reserve to initiate the investigation and submit a report within seven days.

Dubey's complaint claims that two tigers, N-113 and N-112, along with their cubs, have been missing since 2021. He also alleged that the management falsely declared Tigress N-111 as Tigress N-112.

"There is a possibility of tiger poaching," Dubey wrote in his complaint and sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Dubey told PTI that there is a shortage of staff and resources in the reserve, which is among the sites chosen for the reintroduction of cheetahs in India.

He also alleged large-scale illegal tree cutting and transportation of wood in the Bara Beat area of the Nauradehi Sanctuary, allegedly in collusion with the forest staff.

The Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, covering around 1,197 square kilometres, is the largest in Madhya Pradesh and a crucial corridor connecting the Panna and Satpura tiger reserves.

Tiger reintroduction efforts in the Nauradehi Sanctuary began in 2018 with the release of a pair. The number of tigers now stands at 16 and they are part of the Veerangana Durgavati Tiger Reserve.

Dubey also claimed that the lack of prey and veterinary care is adversely impacting the tigers in the reserve. PTI GVS DIV DIV

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