In the wake of a surge in tiger poaching, the state government of Maharashtra, India will no longer consider the shooting of wildlife poachers by forest rangers a crime, reports the Associated Press.
Rangers will not should not be “booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers,” said Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam this week.
Authorities will also offer payments to informants who provide information about wildlife poachers and smugglers. The number of rangers and jeeps in the forest will also be increased.
Tiger in Kanha Tiger Reserve. Photo © Belinda Wright, WPSI.
The move comes after the 14th tiger was killed in India this year, according to the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WSPI). 13 were killed during 2011. India’s tigers are considered endangered — a 2011 census estimated the population at 1,706.
The shoot-on-sight order is not the first in India. Assam has a similar provision, which some credit for the decline in poaching of one-horned rhinos. No tiger poacher has ever been shot in Maharashtra, although illegal loggers and fishermen have been shot, leading to charges against rangers.
Tiger poaching in India is driven by demand for tiger parts in the market for traditional Chinese medicine.