An open letter to wildlife biologist Ullas Karanth

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An open letter to wildlife biologist Ullas Karanth

An open letter to wildlife biologist Ullas Karanth

May 14, 2016 12:05:59 PM (IST)

This relates to the alleged involvement of Jaychandran, a WCS India program associate in the death of a tiger. He has been implicated in the poaching case.
An open letter to wildlife biologist Ullas Karanth-1As you are aware, B Selvakumar, the poacher who was caught red-handed (October 1, 2015, FOC 02-2015) with 43 pieces of tiger bones and a nail in the Punanjur wildlife range in Billigiri Ranganathaswamy Temple tiger reserve, has confessed that he had been paid by Jaychandran to lure a poacher with financial reward.

In the bargain, Selvakumar had hired six petty criminals - Shekar, Palaniswamy, Murthy, Nanjappa, Marimuthu and Vadivel to shoot a tiger in Tamil Nadu’s Satyamangalam forest.

Since Jaychandran was named by Selvakumar, the investigation officer from the Karnataka forest department wanted to interrogate Jaychandran. But, Jaychandran, your WCS India program associate, is on the run.

You claim that Jaychandran is a reputed wildlife conservationist. If that be true, then he should cooperate with the investigation officer and absolve himself of the heinous wildlife crime. If he is honest to conservation, he should answer questions related to this poaching case.

Whatever good work Jaychandran had done in the past has been irrevocably damaged by this allegation. Probably, he was influenced!

A conservationist of your ilk should support the cause of the tiger. But, intriguingly you are supporting an associate who has been implicated in the poaching of a tiger. Why?

Selvakumar is on record. He has stated that he was paid by Jaychandran to nab a poacher. Had Jaychandran not paid him, Selvakumar wouldn’t have hired Shekar, Palaniswamy, Murthy, Nanjappa, Marimuthu and Vadivel to kill a tiger. The tiger would have lived its life. We wouldn’t be lamenting the death of one more of tiger.

You were responsible for the death of nine tigers during your radio-collaring experimentation in Nagarhole. You were also in illegal possession of tiger bones at your research centre in Nagarhole tiger reserve. The bones were dumped at a ranger’s office. Poor man, he was suspended for no fault of his. But the government did not persecute you.

You have drawn multiple international donors, raking in dollars in the name of the tiger. You even illegally transferred an international agency-sponsored Pajero in your name. The SUV was given to WCS. The government waived duty. But you benefitted.

WCS boasts that it is responsible for the  increase in tiger numbers in India. But, you aren’t worried about the death of a tiger, which was brutally shot dead by greedy poachers. Instead, you have steadfastly stood by the reputation of Jaychandran. Why?

You have knocked on every door, administrative and judicial, to ensure that Jaychandran is absolved of the crime. Why?

You met the Karnataka Advocate General Madhusudan Naik to discuss about this poaching case. You tagged a former advocate general to present Jaychandran’s case. Your clout inspired Mr Naik to call an assistant conservator of forest, who is probing the case, to Bangalore. It is good that Mr Naik has heard both sides of the story.

As the advocate general, Madhusudan Naik has to put the state’s interest first, not that of an NGO. If he fails to do so, his integrity could be questioned.  

We are already intrigued by ACS Mahendra Jain’s courtesy call to your office before he was unceremoniously transferred by the government of Karnataka. Curiously, Mr Jain had insisted that the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) accompany him for the meeting.

It is intriguing that you are approaching high-heeled officials in Karnataka, when the case is being heard in the Tamil Nadu court? What is bothering you?

Are you worried that Jaychandran could spill the beans during interrogation? Could Jaychandran put WCS in a quandary? Are you concerned about WCS’s reputation? Who funded Jaychandran to sponsor Selvakumar?

If WCS is not guilty, why is it running from pillar to post to shield Jaychandran?

A wildlife biologist who prospers on tiger funds should protect India’s flagship species, not a poacher who has merely been called for questioning.

As wildlife enthusiasts, we want you to come clear on this tiger poaching issue. Is WCS involved in the tiger’s death? If it isn’t, then it should allow the case to run its course.

(PS: We request all wildlife enthusiasts to share this open letter in the larger interest of wildlife conservation. We want NGOs to work in the interest of wildlife conservation, not against it)

The writer is a senior journalist, wildlife conservationist and member of Karnataka Wildlife Advisory Board

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same