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Decide soon on plea against shifting of tiger

Tiger 1

New Delhi: ‘Ustaad’, an alleged man-eater which was shifted to a Rajasthan zoo from Ranthambore forest after it killed a forest guard, would have to stay there till a petition challenging his relocation is decided by the High Court.

The Supreme Court today said “status quo” should be maintained on the relocation of alleged “man-eating” tiger — called T-24 or ‘Ustaad’, from the Ranthambore reserved forest to an Udaipur zoo.

A vacation bench of Justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit also asked the Rajasthan High Court to expeditiously decide the plea of environmentalist Chandra Bhal Singh.

Singh has challenged the decision to shift the tiger on the grounds that it had never before attacked the hundreds of tourists visiting the forest.

During the hearing, the court was informed that life of the tiger, which was used to living in the wild, was in danger as it was not eating the meat provided by the zoo authorities.

“Let status quo be maintained till the petition is decided by the High Court,” the apex court said while disposing of Singh’s plea on the issue.

The plea alleged that the wildlife department in Rajasthan had failed to take the requisite permission under section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act before proceeding to relocate the tiger to the Sajjangarh Biological Park in Udaipur and hence the move was illegal.

The Rajasthan High Court had refused to give an urgent hearing on the PIL and posted it to May 28. Prior to this, the Delhi High Court had also dismissed the plea on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

The PIL said that the Tiger, on May 8, had attacked and killed a Forest Guard in “self defence” and a decision was taken the very next day to translocate it “without scientific probe or investigation into the circumstances of the attack.”

“The tiger was alleged to be man-eater even though it has never attacked any of the thousands of pilgrims that frequent the Ganesh temple in the Ranthambhore Fort. Reason for attack was the encroachment on the tiger’s territory,” it said.

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