Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NTCA proposes six new tiger reserves, five others given in principle approval

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times India’s rising tiger population may get a further boost as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has suggested creation of six new tiger reserves. This is in addition to five wildlife areas for which in principle approval has been accorded but final notification is still awaited. India as of now has 41 notified tiger reserves. “For consolidating new tiger reserves 5 have been given in-principle approval, and for another 6, the States have been advised to send proposals,” said the new NTCA guidelines on eco-tourism notified on Monday and submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The proposed tiger reserves range from across country from Uttar Pradesh to Goa to Tamil Nadu. “The aim is to create new tiger habitats to create strong breeding populations to foster growth of the magnificent animal. With tigers, we also want to strengthen other wildlife species that may not find much place in other policy initiatives,” said a senior NTCA official. Among the six tiger reserves proposed is Bor Wildlife Sanctuary of just 63 sq km protected areas and would be probably smallest tiger reserve in India if Maharashtra government agrees to the proposal. In 2010, wildlife experts have spotted some tigers in the wildlife area through camera traps. “If the area is notified as tiger reserve, the Central government will provide money to increase the core area to support a sustainable breeding population,” an official said. Another wild zone under consideration is Nagriza wildlife sanctuary which as per the last count had 34 species of mammals, including tigers 166 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles and four species of amphibians. Neighbouring Goa could have its first tiger reserve in Mhadei Sanctuary where the tigers have been under threat due to illegal mining around the habitat. Most of the tigers in the sanctuary are believed to have moved from Karnataka where the tiger population has exponentially grown. The state government did not agree to notifying the sanctuary as a tiger reserve allegedly due to pressure from the strong mining lobby. The NTCA has also asked Chhattisgarh government to submit a proposal to declare Guru Ghasidas National Park, named after state’s satnami reformist, as a tiger reserve. The park is the result of the carving of Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh in November 2000 and it was formerly called Sanjay National Park (in Madhya Pradesh). Apart from tigers, the forest is known for Sal trees and extensive patches of bamboo. Another new tiger reserve proposed is on Indo-Gangetic plan bordering Nepal in Suhelwa eastern Uttar Pradesh. The park is known more for vultures and turtles than tigers. But, the officials believe that it could be good tiger habitat like another one in the state Dudhwa. The sixth one proposed in by intergrating Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel area, Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuaries and Varushanadu Valley in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu). The five reserves for in principle approved has been given are Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), Ratapani (Madhya Pradesh), Sunabeda (Odisha), Mukundara Hills (including Darrah, Jawahar Sagar and Chambal Wildlife Sanctuaries) (Rajasthan) and Satyamangalam (Tamil Nadu).

Poaching fears over tiger relocation at Sariska

TNN | Oct 16, 2012, 03.02AM IST JAIPUR: The ambitious but controversial tiger relocation programme at Sariska Tiger Reserve is set to enter the next phase with the introduction of two female and a male tiger in the park before the end of winter. This will take the tiger count to 10 at Sariska. The forest department is gung ho about the plan, more so after the sighting of the first cubs recently. Everybody, though, doesn't share forest department's enthusiasm regarding the project. The debate on if Sariska is safe for tigers is on with conservationists raising concern over poaching still being a big threat. Is Sariska safe for tigers? Arguments of conservationists find credence in the report of the state empowered committee on forests and wildlife management (SEC), constituted in February 2005, that stated that all the tigers in the reserve were poached. The results of a similar experiment at the Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh were an eye-opener. Following a tiger relocation programme in 2009, the reserve today boasts of 12 cubs and five adults. "Even if numbers don't form a scale for comparison, it definitely indicates that there is something wrong with the habitat. Sariska with the vast number of villagers living inside the reserve has a much higher disturbance level," says conservation biologist Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch. "The hype and the support that the Sariska tiger relocation programme received was not channeled. The department should have taken more interest in preparing the habitat than just concentrating on relocating tigers," he says. Khandal cites the incident of leopard poaching, a couple of months ago in Sariska, to validate his concerns. "Moreover, till sometime back they were building anicuts inside the forest with heavy machinery in a gross violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Supreme Court directives. There has been little effort to link the community staying inside the reserve area with the conservation programme. Thousands of pilgrims still travel through the forest to reach Pandupole and the problem of heavy traffic on the highway near the reserve is yet to be addressed," he says. No study has been undertaken to understand the bio-diversity of the forest, he adds. The SEC report too while raising concerns on the biotic pressure from the people and cattle living in the villages situated inside the STR and on the periphery had recommended reduction of these existing disturbances and a time bound relocation of villages. The report said: "In Sariska, all the reasons responsible for the disappearance of tigers in toto zero in on one single factor which is that large number of villages exist inside the reserve. No successful rehabilitation of these villages has ever taken place. Therefore, poachers could take shelter here and kill tigers" Four years after the relocation programme, 25 of the 28 villages continue to exist in the reserve area. The conservationists' fears were found to be true when the first relocated tiger ST1 was poisoned to death by the villagers in November 2010.