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Maharashtra CM to make bonfire of wildlife contraband
Monday July 29, 2013 12:55 PM, IANS

In a first-ever initiative in the country, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will make a bonfire of wildlife contraband as part of a New Global Campaign to Save the Tiger here Tuesday, an official said Monday.

Chavan, along with Environment & Forests Minisiter Patangrao Kadam and Minister of State for Forests U. Samant, will preside over an official bonfire of wildlife contraband, including tiger and leopard skins, and elephant tusks -- all much sought after items commanding huge prices among the wildlife mafia and international markets.

The event takes place a day after the July 29 launch of a new global Save-the-Tiger campaign called "Leave Me Alone", a joint initiative of Sanctuary Asia and Save the Tiger, the Facebook Tiger Conservation social media platform with 2.7 million supporters, the Mumbai Press Club and support from the Wildlife and Forests Department of the Maharashtra government.

These organisations have joined hands for educational, awareness-building, and activist campaign to save India's iconic national animal July 29 - the third annual Global Tiger Day.

The tiger - India's national animal - is of enormous ecological significance. It is fast disappearing from India because of rampant poaching and widespread habitat destruction.

There are an estimated 1,800 tigers in the wild in India today, down from approximately 100,000 in 1900, said one of the event co-ordinators, Mrityunjay Bose, a journalist.

Through the bonfire of the wildlife contraband, Chavan, Kadam, Sawant, Sanctuary Asia's Bittu Sahgal, Raj Krishnani of Save the Tiger and other tiger lovers will make a statement that "poaching shall not be tolerated in Maharashtra".

Chavan is expected to announce policy steps taken to curb the global increase in illegal wildlife trade, which is reportedly linked to the international drugs and weapons trade and one of the key reason for increased poaching of tiger in Maharashtra and other states.

According to Bose, the "Leave Me Alone" campaign aims to mobilize massive national and global public support for the tiger, and how the creature is important in protecting forests, which in turn have tremendous ramifications on the environment.

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