Rhino introduction in Corbett
The 14th Uttarakhand Wildlife Board meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat has decided that Rhinos will be introduced in Corbett Tiger Reserve. It was felt that the terrain of Corbett is conducive for the reintroduction of rhinos and the environmental conditions are also conducive. So an experimental reintroduction will be carried out. It was also felt that this move to reintroduce rhinos would not lead to any man-animal conflicts. The Uttarakhand wildlife board felt that rhinos would further increase the attraction of Corbett Tiger Reserve as a tourist destination.
The river and rivulets, swamps and chaurs will help the rhinos survive in Corbett. However, many of these reintroductions are meant to create glorified zoos as in the name of protection of rhino the forest department would create barbed fencing as has been seen in Dudhwa National Park. The rhinos after the initial acclimatization have to be allowed to roam free and settle in the area they find best.
If that happens, then it would be better for conservation as a different population can be established. Also, at the moment tourists crowd around tigers. Too many jeeps line up and create traffic jams for tiger sighting. Having rhinos will also lead to people moving in a different direction to spot them and hence reduce the pressure on tigers. However, all this depends on the implementation.
The Uttarakhand Wildlife Board also decided that a voluntary protection force will be set up in villages that are vulnerable to man-animal conflicts. A proposal to study the carrying capacity of Rajaji and Corbett Tiger reserves with respect to the number of tigers and elephants will be done. This move is primarily designed to declare animals as vermins and help in killing them lawfully. At the moment, there is a hidden nexus between forest officials and the hunting lobby who declare tigers and leopards etc as maneaters and get them killed by hunters.
When the Government hasnít done a proper carrying capacity study of tourists getting into the tiger reserves, the traffic that destroys the peace inside the reserve deciding on number of tigers and elephants these reserves can have is an egregious move. The anthropogenic pressures that these premier tiger reserves face is enormous. Hope the Government can do something to contain it.