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Madhya Pradesh red flags NTCA’s order for closing tiger reserves | India News – Times of India

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BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh government is in no mood to close any of its tiger reserves, sanctuaries and national parks for tourists.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has on Tuesday asked all states to close down tiger reserves, national parks, and sanctuaries till its further orders citing Covid-19 infection as reason behind death of a lioness inside a zoo in Chennai.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has decided to request the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MOEFCC) to reconsider NTCA’s order following objections raised by top wildlife and forest officers here, said sources.
Principal secretary (forest department) Ashok Barnwal told TOI that the state government has initiated correspondence to get NTCA’s order revoked.
“Holding tourism activities in these areas would only create man-animal conflict situations around the national parks and tiger reserves. We are communicating with the centre for reconsideration of NTCA’s order. Till that time, tourism activities would continue,” said the officer.
Tourism activities resumed here on June 1 and were scheduled to continue till 30th. Hundreds of people have already reserved their hotels and safaris across tiger reserves in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Satpura and Panna.
Many senior forest officers including field directors have opposed NTCA’s order. They have made a representation to the government against this.
“We have remained shut for long as a precautionary measure during the pandemic, but not anymore without a logical reason. Just think about the people who were dependent only on tourists,” said an IFS officer wishing not to be quoted.
“None of the samples sent from the reserves have tested positive for COVID19 so far. Moreover, who goes closer to tigers or any other animals during safaris? If the order is for the zoo, it’s okay. But it shouldn’t be applicable in the wild,” he claims.
NTCA order reads, “As per the news reports, a lioness in Vandalur zoo, Chennai is suspected to have died due to Covid-19 infection and several other lions of the same zoo have been tested positive for SARS COV-2,”.
This latest instance of zoo animals getting infected by Covid-19 once again indicates the high likelihood of disease transmission from affected human beings to captive wild animals. A similar transmission may also happen in tiger reserves, says a letter from Rajendra G Garawad, Deputy Inspector General of Forests (NTCA) to all states.
“In view of this, it is once again reiterated that for preventing the possible transmission of Covid-19 from human beings to wild tigers and other wildlife, all Tiger Reserves under your jurisdiction need to be closed for tourism activities until further orders” he wrote adding “Further, all other instructions issued vide letters quoted under reference need to be followed in letter and spirit and action taken in this regard may kindly be communicated to this Authority at the earliest”.

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