Public interest litigation plea filed against order to hunt tiger MDT23

It goes against National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines, says petition

A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court challenging an order passed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) on October 1 to hunt tiger MDT23, which is suspected to have killed humans and livestock in Gudalur division of Nilgiris district.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu will be hearing the case on Tuesday. People for Cattle in India (PFCI), based in Chennai, had filed the case on the ground that the PCCF’s order was not in consonance with the guidelines issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The petitioner pointed out that the NTCA was a statutory body constituted under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and its objective was to strengthen tiger conservation by retaining oversight through issuance of advisories or normative guidelines to forest authorities.

Pointing out that the PCCF had issued hunting orders on the ground that MDT23 was dangerous to human life, the petitioner said the NTCA guidelines differentiate between human kills due to chance encounters and habituated animals that had become dangerous to human life.

In its guidelines, the authority had clearly stated that tigers often use agriculture or sugarcane fields while feeding on livestock and such visits might also cause lethal encounters with human beings.

“Such animals should not be declared as dangerous to human life,” the guidelines read.

However, the NTCA had gone ahead to state that confirmed habituated tiger/leopard which stalk human beings and feed on the dead body are likely to be dangerous to human life and that such declaration requires considerable examination based on field evidences.

The petitioner claimed that in the case of MDT23, there was no evidence to confirm habituation of stalking of human beings and avoiding natural prey. Merely because the forest officials were finding it difficult to capture the tiger alive could not be a reason to hunt it down, it added.

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