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Thread: Panna to get two tigresses-Source Down2Earth

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    Default Panna to get two tigresses-Source Down2Earth

    Panna to get two tigresses
    Kirtiman Awasthi , Sumana Narayanan

    File photo from Panna

    But will that save the tiger reserve from heading the Sariska way?

    TWO tigresses from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve will be introduced in Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh by February 2009. “We have sighted fewer tigresses in the last couple of years. Bringing in two would help us restore the sex ratio in the reserve,” said L K Choudhary, field director of Panna Tiger Reserve. Skewed sex ratio of tigers often results in inbreeding that affects the future tiger population in a reserve.

    The National Tiger Conservation Authority, under the environment and forests ministry, had recommended the plan. On December 1, the authority wrote to the chief wildlife warden of Madhya Pradesh that the tiger population in Panna was “alarmingly low” and required “immediate intervention”.

    The tigresses will be airlifted from Bandhavgarh and released in Panna under the supervision of the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

    They will be fitted with radio collars, so that wildlife officials can monitor their movement.

    The conservation authority recommended a similar plan for Rajasthan’s Sariska Tiger Reserve in June 2008 after it lost all its tigers to poaching (see box: Making of an inviolate reserve).

    Some conservationists say the reintroduction plan for Panna has come too late; reports have been highlighting a low tiger population in the reserve for the past four years.

    • Making of an inviolate reserve
    In 2005 conservation biologist Raghu Chundawat, who studied tigers in Panna for a decade, said 23 tigers appeared to be missing from Panna. He was contesting the 2002 census that said Panna had 31 tigers. “The last female was seen over two years ago. But the government refused to listen. Even now they (forest officials) claim there are about 30 tigers in the reserve,” said Chundawat.

    In the same year, following Chundawat’s report, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee visited Panna and reported that the tiger reserve could “turn into another Sariska”.

    Choudhary refuted such reports, saying the Wildlife Institute of India census 2008 estimated 24 tigers in Panna. The census report, however, admitted that the count seemed overestimated.

    The tiger conservation authority linked the decline to disturbance in the forest due to the presence of dacoits and absence of buffer zone. This hampered the breeding process, said Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the authority. Forest guards cannot patrol properly for fear of dacoits. The authority proposed introducing tigresses after the leader of the dacoits operating in the area was killed recently.

    Chundawat contended that the tigers were lost even before the dacoits came into picture in 2006.

    The tiger conservation authority, however, is hopeful. Panna Tiger Reserve was notified as critical tiger habitat in December 2007. Four villages inside the forest have since been relocated and four others are in the process of relocation. “This will make the reserve inviolate,” said Gopal.

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    I don't think anything will be achieved by just shifting two tigers. The core issues remain unsolved.

    In earlier days, when a tiger used to die another tiger from the adjoining forests used to come and take its place. Today, due to poaching when a forest is emptied of its tigers, no other tigers take their place. Most of the times there are either no tigers in the adjoining forests or in a majority of the cases, there are no contiguous forests for tigers to use as a corridor to come from other forests. Today our forests are just isolated patches surrounded by concrete jungle. So how will a tiger come from the nearby areas? It has to fly. Since it can't fly on its own, we have to play God and airlift them.

    The question is how many times will we be doing it and how frequently. The poachers are still there. The villages sheltering and helping those poachers are still there inside the National Park.

    Poaching needs to be curbed with an iron hand. All the posts in the forest department needs to be filled up. Sufficient emphasis needs to be placed on patrolling. In most of the places, neither enough funds nor staff are made available for patrolling. There should be monitoring of movements of known poachers/gangs in an area.

    Tigers and wildlife need inviolate spaces. Humans and wildlife can't co-exist in the same place. When there are villages inside the park, it becomes difficult to prevent poaching. Villages need to be relocated immediately. Many a relocation effort is done in a shabby manner. Unfortunately in India, the relocation came to limelight only with the SEZs (Special Economic Zones). There are people who have not got compensation even 50 years after they lost their land to dams. We have been inefficient in the past, and we continue to remain so today as well. There are many issues afflicting relocations that are beyond the control of the forest department. For eg. if a father has four grown up sons and all of them are staying togather as one household, then they will get compensation say of 2 lakhs. Whereas, if the 4 sons would have had constructed thatch huts nearby with separate kitchens, they would have got 2 lakh rupees individually. I hope the district administration (District Collector) and the forest department can work in tandem and tackle these kind of unique issues surrounding relocations.

    It was common knowledge that the number of tigers had reduced drastically in Panna. Unfortunately, instead of investigating and finding the solution, there was lot of denial. We are not God. There will be mistakes. However, the manner in which we tackle it is more important. An adversity can be a rallying point in creating a new and better tomorrow. I am an optimist. I hope Panna can regain its lost glory.

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    would shifting 2 tigers help...??? what about the poaching that has depleted the tiger population in the first place....??? Despite 'stringent measures' taken by the forest dept and the Govt, one still reads about poaching every other day....
    How would the wild life survive in areas that are really not large enought for them to roam about freely as they should....!!! Are there any contigous stretches of jungles left for them to move around and relocate by themselves..??? I think NOT/.. thanks to the rapid urbanisation... one can see the concrete jungles where once there were lush green forests, teeming with wild life....!!!
    It is a scary doomsday thought... but one can visualise a day when the only place these beautiful creatures could be sighted would be at Zoos.... caged, because their habitat has been taken over by urbanisation .... There just might be many more sariskas in the making... unless steps are taken...NOW.....!!!!

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