As reported by Kundan Pandey in on 28 August 2011:

No docs to treat state's 257 tigers

INDORE: Madhya Pradesh has 257 tigers, but is without a wildlife doctor. This fact has come to light through an RTI application.

The applicant, RTI activist Ajay Dubey, had sought details about a wildlife doctor in Madhya Pradesh, but forest department failed to furnish them on the pretext that the documents of the doctors currently employed with the department were not available with it. Dubey, who filed the application in June, 2011, said that the doctors available with the department were not qualified to handle wildlife. All that the department could provide in answer to the RTI application was the list of five doctors: Dr Sandeep Gupta, Dr Atul Gupta, Dr Sandeep Kumar Agrawal, Dr Jitendra Kumar Jatav and Dr Akhilesh Mishra.

However, these doctors, said Dubey have not attended the specialized course in wildlife from IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute) Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. Dubey said, "IVRI Bareilly is the only institute in the country which trains veterinarians in wildlife and provides enough exposure in handling animals in the wild. However, the RTI activist said that none of the doctors have undergone the requisite training at IVRI. He further criticised the state government for not appointing an expert for treating wildlife.

As per government data, there are nine national parks and 25 sanctuaries in the state. Also the issue of Ratapani being given the status of a sanctuary is still pending. Retired chief conservator of forest (wildlife) PM Lad said treatment of wild animals including tigers needs expertise and normal veterinary doctors cannot understand and deal with the problem of big cats. He further stated that that the basic reason why wildlife doctors shy away from taking up government jobs is because of unattractive salary packages. "Abroad, wildlife doctors are paid well," said Lad.

A veterinary doctors working with the forest department of Madhya Pradesh said on the condition of anonymity that there is a bit more exposure in the IVRI. When asked why the people are not joining forest department, he said that the poor salary structure discourages them to take up government jobs like wildlife doctor.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests H S Pawla claimed that the department has wildlife doctors. "The certificates might not have been with the department at the time of RTI, therefore they must have not been made available," he said. As regards hiring veterinary doctors from Madhya Pradesh Veterinary Department, he said there were no doctors with veterinary department so they hired three doctors recently on contract basis.

Tigers died or disappeared in Madhya Pradesh from 2006 to 2010: Panna Tiger Reserve - 24, Kanha Tiger Reserve - 29.