Demanding severe punishment against those responsible for the death of tigers in the State, waste management minister Michael Lobo said the state government should do a rethink on declaring Mhadei wildlife sanctuary into a tiger reserve. “The government needs to do a rethink on this (tiger reserve). It should have been done long back. Just to help the local population it was not done. If it was declared a tiger reserve, today these tigers would have been saved,” Lobo said. He said all those people involved in poisoning the tigers should be booked and sent behind bars. “The case needs to be fast tracked and they should be sent straight to jail and sentenced up to 20 years,” he said. Goa woke up to shocking news after the carcass of a tigress and a tiger cub was found buried in a village in Sattari on Wednesday, taking the total number of tiger deaths in the State to four. The death of the tigers has sent shock waves across the State and sparked outrage among wildlife enthusiasts in the country. Continuing, the waste management minister said the status of tiger reserve will give the tourism sector a boost in the State. “If it is declared a tiger reserve, definitely what’s happening in Ranthambore National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Jim Corbett National Park and Sundarbans National Park will happen in Goa also. There will be people coming especially to see the tigers. There will be tents and hotels set up outside the reserve area catering to tourists,” Lobo said. He said the government may have consciously resisted in declaring the area as a reserve only in the interest of the local people who own houses and farms including private forests.
Lobo admitted a failure on the part of the forest officials in assessing the ground situation but refused to blame them for the death of tigers. “Forest guards may have never imagined that people would poison the big cats. The Chief Conservator of Forests could have taken some preventive measures if his subordinates had informed him about the reality on the ground. Proper investigation needs to be done,” he said. With their dwindling numbers, tiger is considered an endangered species and government of India has taken up a series of projects to protect and restore their population. The Bengal Tiger has long been declared as the national animal of India since 1973.