Hunger strike for tigers begins tomorrow

Bandu Dhotre

Bandu Dhotre will begin his indefinite fast tomorrow to demonstrate against weak tiger protection.

Wildlife activist Bandu Dhotre,  founder of Indian wildlife group Eco-Pro, will tomorrow begin a fast outside the offices of Maharashtra State forest headquarters in Nagpur. He hopes to highlight short-comings in the way the Indian state protects tigers.

Dhotre will be supported in his fast by his colleagues from Eco-Pro who will take it in turns to join him on his hunger strike. 32 year old Dhotre has been on 7 previous fasts before in his environmental campaigning. The longest was in 2009 in a campaign against mining concessions in Lohara which threatened to destroy the wildlife corridors. That fast lasted 14 days. [pullquote]We need to ensure that tigers live in a safe environment. Despite several letters and memorandums to the forest minister and other officials in the forest department, poachers continue to kill tigers,[/pullquote]

Eco-Pro has a list of 16 points that they want the state government to put in place in order to better protect the tigers. these include the merging of forest areas and reserves together with better monitoring systems for tigers such as the electronic eye system in the Jim Corbet Tiger Reserve.

The electronic eye system installed at Jim Corbet tiger Reserve involves a system of high resolution cameras including infra red and thermal cameras installed across the park to tackle poaching activities.

One of the key points that Dhotre wants tackled is the protection of tigers found outside protected nature reserves. He points out that while Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) has a population of 46 tigers that are protected and looked after there are over 50 tigers living in the buffer zone around the core reserve and there is little anti-poaching activity by state authorities to prevent them being killed.

Eco-Pro wants the buffer areas and transition zones around core tiger reserves to be given the same level of anti-poaching resources and activities as the core areas. 

Dhirendra Mulkalwar, a music composer and producer associated with Eco-Pro  explained, “Tadoba tigers get VIP treatment while those outside live below poverty line.

As well as the main fast being held outside the forestry authorities offices in Nagpur there will also be other protests and token hunger strikes around the state at: Chandrapur, Gondia, Bhandara, Nashik, Jalgaon and Solapur.

We need to ensure that tigers live in a safe environment. Despite several letters and memorandums to the forest minister and other officials in the forest department, poachers continue to kill tigers,” Dhotre said.

It’s time that citizens and animal lovers should get to together to raise their voice against these illegal activities,” Dhotre said.

It’s reported that many of the demands being made by Dhotre are fully supported by officials in the forestry authorities and could be bought in quickly if the state politicians wanted to. It’s hoped that the publicity raised through the fast will speed up the political process of change.

Updated: Friday 13th July 2012.

Dhotre ended his fast for tigers on Wednesday 11th July after the Maharashtra government agreed to accept almost all his demands. Only the merger of forest lands could not be accomplished.

As reported in The Hindu Dhotre said, “The government has accepted almost all the demands put forward by us. Only the merger of the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra [FDCM] with territorial forests could not be fulfilled due to some technical reasons.

“But the government is going to come up with a comprehensive wildlife management plan for the FDCM in the next eight days. We hope tiger protection in this area will get a boost.”

Chandrapur will be declared as a ‘tiger district’ and tigers in the non- protected areas will also be protected on the lines of protected areas,” said Swanand Soni, who participated in the negotiations with the government.

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Facebook: An indefinite fast to save tigers.


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