The Rajasthan government has denied a report that appeared in a national newspaper on Sunday morning which claimed that eight tigers were lost during the time the state government had ordered a head count of the animal by a group of experts.
These tigers disappeared from Ranthambore National Park between 2005 and October 2006. This is the only sanctury which has tigers left in the desert state.
"I have seen the report filed by Jay Mazoomdaar. He did not get in touch with us to confirm the story and decided to go ahead and print his own version, which he has got from some disgruntled elements," R N Mehrotra, chief wildlife warden of Rajasthan, told rediff.com on phone from Jaipur.
Mehrotra alleged that the story was incorrect and had been planted by vested interests who wanted bring bad name to the state for doing good work.
"Head count of tigers is not possible, even the best of the experts will tell you. More importantly, how can someone give the exact age of the various tigers in the national park?" he asked.
When asked how many tigers were left in Ranathambore National Park, Mehrotra put the number at 26, which included some new born babes whose age is between one and 2 years.
Interestingly, even Jay Mazoombaar's report mentions the figure of 26 tigers left. The census is being conducted by experts from the Wildlife Institute of India and some independent experts.
Former conservator of Ranthambore Fateh Singh Rathore could not be contacted for confirmation of the statements attributed to him in the story, which claimed that even Rathore has confirmed the missing tigers.
The Rajasthan government is likely to order another probe into the allegations as the Tiger Task Force is being directly handled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had ordered a comprehensive investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigations after the state government admitted that barring Ranthambore no other national park including Sariska has any tiger left.