Panaji, Jan 10 (IANS) Following the death of four tigers in North Goa’s Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this week, Goa’s Ports Minister Michael Lobo has urged the state government to revisit the proposal for upgrading the sanctuary into a Tiger reserve, so that the striped cat is better protected.

Lobo said on Thursday that the Forest Department had failed in its task to protect the tigers by not taking preventive action, especially when the tigers had previously killed a cow and a buffalo belonging to the Dhangar (a Scheduled Tribe) villagers in Golvali village in the Sattari sub district, parts of which are located in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary.

“The government needs to do a rethink on this (tiger reserve),” Lobo said, when asked whether the proposal which has been pending for several years, to upgrade the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary into a Tiger Reserve should be expedited by the Goa government.

From January 5-8, four tiger carcasses were discovered by the Forest Department officials in the sanctuary jurisdiction. Three persons, all of them Dhangars living in close vicinity were arrested on Wednesday for poisoning the animals.

Lobo claims, that while those who poisoned the tigers should be given “20 years imprisonment” for the crime, he also held Forest Department officials for lapses, which led to the death of the tigers.

“There was a failure on the part of the forest officials also. The Goa Principal Chief Conservator of Forests had to take preventive measures. His subordinates had to inform him that the cattle had been killed and eaten by the tigers. Killing the tigers was an act of retaliation by the villagers,” Lobo said.

The proposal to upgrade the sanctuary into a tiger reserve had been mooted after a tiger was poached in the area in 2009. In 2013, while speaking in the state Assembly, the then Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar had shown his reluctantance to upgrade the sanctuary into a dedicated tiger reserve.

“One sparrow (swallow) does not make a summer,” Parrikar had told the Assembly in October 2013, after he was asked if the state government would send a proposal to the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) to upgrade the sanctuary as a Tiger Reserve.

The Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over 208 sq kms, is one of the four wildlife sanctuaries in Goa. The sanctuary is a part of a tiger corridor for the apex predator, which runs contiguous with the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.

–IANS

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