Baalu deaf to CITES

'Saving the tiger ranks very low on the minister's list of priorities'

Published: Tuesday 29 February 2000

judging by the rapid rate of decline in the tiger population, India will no longer hold the distinction of being home to the largest number of tigers in the world. To make matters worse, the top authority does not show even the slightest concern. In yet another effort to "save the tiger", a high-level three-member team from the Convention on Trade in International Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ( cites ) made a four-day mission to India.

"It is very disappointing," was what Robert Hepworth, chairman of the cites standing committee, had to say about the minister of environment and forest, T R Baalu, being unable to meet the team. Though the team's visit to India was postponed twice to suit the minister's convenience, he was still unavailable. According to Hepworth, the minister was informed well in advance of their visit, but 'saving the tiger' seems to rate very low in the minister's list of priorities.

The team managed to speak to the secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Vishwanath Anand, in the hope of a positive signal. "The secretary showed a very positive consideration," was all they could say. However, the outcome of the meeting was not mentioned. The team generally had little to say about the result of their meeting with government officials, "some were interested, while most of them just showed blank faces with no reaction at all," said Willem Wijnsteker, Secretary General of cites .

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