Sariska tiger death: 2 forest officials suspended

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Sariska tiger death: 2 forest officials suspended
Jaipur/New Delhi:  Two officials of Sariska reserve forest, where a relocated tiger died, has been suspended on the charge of dereliction of duty even as government ruled out stopping tiger translocating programme despite coming in for criticism from some wildlife experts.

Concerned over the death of the tiger due to suspected poisoning in Sariska, Forest and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is visiting Sariska tomorrow to assess the situation there.

Rajasthan government put District Forest Officer B Praveen and Assistant Conservator of Forest Mukesh Saini of Sariska under suspension on the charge of dereliction of duty.

"In preliminary investigation, both were found guilty of dereliction of duty. They were suspended today," state Forest and Environment Minister Ramlal Jaat said in Jaipur.

He said a committee headed by a senior officer Mohan Lal Meena was constitued to probe the death of the tiger which was located to Sariska from Ranthambore in 2008.

He said the viscera report of the tiger from the Forensic Science Laboratory has not come yet and the exact cause of the death of the tiger would become clear after the report comes.

In New Delhi, Ramesh admitted to "governance and administration failure" which led to the death of the tiger in Sariska.

"I take responsibility for the death of the tiger in Sariska sanctuary. I admit that there have been governance and administration failure. That were the reasons for the unfortunate death of the big cat," he said.

Ramesh will undertake a day-long tour of Sariska on Wednesday to see the steps taken by the state government for protection of the remaining tigers there.

Ramesh said it was too early to predict the real cause for the tiger's death and the viscera report was awaited. Sources, however, said the animal died of poisoining.

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) head Rajesh Gopal visited Sariska forest and will soon submit the post-mortem report to the Environment Ministry.

The death of the tiger, which was the first big cat to be moved to Sariska park two years ago as a part of the trans-location process of the government, has come as a major setback for the species revival plan.

Since 2008, five tigers have been relocated to Sariska which had lost all its native species to poachers during 2005-06.

The minister, however, rejected criticism by some wildlife experts that the trans-location process was to blame for the death of the big cat in Sariska and said the process would go on.

"This tragic episode (death of the tiger in Sariska) will not stop our ongoing trans-location programme which has been scientifically prepared by the best of experts from research institutes such as Wildlife Institute of India (WII). We will go ahead with it as planned," he said.

Jaat also said the state government is planning to translocate another tiger from Ranthambhore to Sariska.


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