State to get second tiger rescue centre at Jharkhali
11 Sep 2008, 0433 hrs IST, Somdatta Basu,TNN
KOLKATA: The state has finally embarked on a project to set up a second tiger rescue centre at Jharkhali in the Sunderbans, following the Central Zoos Authority’s approval.
The centre will treat injured tigers rescued in the Sunderbans and make it unnecessary to send them for treatment to the state’s lone tiger rescue centre at Khairbari in the Jaldapara forest.
Forest department officials are concerned with regular instances of Sunderbans tigers straying into human habitat and fishermen and honey collectors falling prey to them. Over the past six months, there have been four cases of tigers straying into villages in the Sunderbans. The big cats were later rescued by forest officials, treated and released.
"The last tiger that had strayed into the locality had to be released in the jungle without complete treatment. It is not always possible to send them to Khairbari. Thus began our initiative for a new tiger rescue centre in the Sunderbans," said principal
chief conservator of forest Atanu Raha.
The centre will come up on 100 acres of a 300-acre sprawling plot at Jharkhali. The remaining 200 acres will be utilized to develop a mangrove research station and an eco-tourism centre. The land is proposed to be transferred by the relief department to the forest department.
"There are no settlements on the land earmarked for the project. Thus, there is no question of acquisition. Work will begin soon," said Raha. However, no residential facility will be available in the eco-tourism centre, he said.
Currently, there are 11 tigers at Khairbari. Besides tigers from the wild, it is also home to tigers rescued from circuses. The last one to find a home at the centre was the injured tiger that had strayed into a village at Jharkhali in February. Though the facilities in Khairbari are good, it is facing a space crunch.
"The new centre will be used for treating animals and rehabilitating them in the forest. It will have facilities for treating other Sunderbans animals, too," Raha explained.
"The project is still in a nascent state. We are working on developing a plan soon," added a senior forest official.