5 Mar 2008, 0504 hrs IST,Nitin Sethi,TNN
NEW DELHI: The reintroduction of tigers in Sariska is now imminent with the central government giving an in-principle approval to relocate tigers to the national park in Rajasthan where poachers wiped out the tiger population. Two female and one male tiger have been identified in the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve to be moved to Sariska.
A committee which includes officials from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the Centre will meet in mid-March to approve the project and recommend it to the environment ministry for operationalization.
The tigers would be introduced in a 7-hectare enclosed area. Once acclimatised to the new habitat, they would be let out into the wild. Though the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, has prepared a blueprint for the reintroduction, the government has been wary of moving fast on the project because of inherent risks involved in reintroducing large carnivorous animals into the wild. The three big cats to be released into Sariska are being taken out of the wild from Ranthambore, where the terrain is similar to Sariska's.
However, tigers being extremely territorial animals, scientists and researchers would still need to take extra precautions and monitor how the three take to their new habitat. The central government has agreed to give additional funds to undertake the long-term monitoring and protection of the relocated tigers.
The environment ministry, sources said, considers the reintroduction important as Ranthambore was the only tiger-bearing reserve in Rajasthan after the Sariska scandal. Bringing the tiger back to Sariska would provide an alternative safe habitat in the state. Added to these in-built risks has been the slow pace of work in Sariska by the state government. The Centre had asked the state to act on several key issues to make the habitat safe for bringing the tigers back.
The state is yet to divert traffic moving through the park to a newly constructed road, which would leave the park untouched. At the same time, the state government has not shifted the field staff that acted like passive spectators while poachers cleaned up tigers in the park. Relocation of three villages from the reserve has also been hanging fire. While the state government has committed to follow up these issues, the special inter-state committee, meeting in the second week of March, will review the situation.
For The Tiger
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