Nagpur/Chandrapur: Amid all the hues and cries over shooting the problem tigress from Pandharkawda and Ralegaon jungles, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has expressed anguish over the repeated protests by wildlife lovers to press for removing shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan from the operation.
The minister said that those who are raising their voice from distant places must understand the condition in which the forest officials work in the forests. He said that the situation of villagers who have lost their kin in the tiger attack should also be considered. He also expressed fear that if officials fail to neutralize the tigress angry villagers might take the law into their hands and kill it themselves.
On the issue of removing Khan from the job, the minister asked the naysayers to give a list of expert shooters and he would replace him. He said he was only interested in results. The minister did not rule out killing of problem tigress if tranquillization fails, and pointed out that many man-eaters have been gunned down in the past.
Talking about the villagers aggrieved with the tigress, he said “People directly calls me seeking action, and have given a deadline. They are agitated and have often threatened to kill forest officials and burn vehicles if they fail to capture or kill the tigress. In such a volatile situation, I have asked chief wildlife warden to stay at Pandharkawda until the tigress is dealt with.”
The minister claimed he is taking all calls from villagers since last many days and pacifying them. Mungantiwar said the PCCF has been directed to hold meeting with local people’s representatives and take them into confidence. He has also created a WhatsApp group to get updates on the operation every few hours. He fears that if the tigress unfortunately gets killed by villagers, it would set a trend at other conflict places.
The forest minister said he has given another chance to team of vets from Madhya Pradesh, on Maneka Gandhi’s request, but underlined that they have only a few days to deliver results. Efforts to tranquillize the feline are underway since last many months. But thanks to repeated attempts, the tigress has grown suspicious and flees on sensing people in the vicinity, he explained.