It's official: Panna reserve has no tiger
14 Jun 2009, 0408 hrs IST, Suchandana Gupta, TNN
BHOPAL: It's now official: Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh has no tiger. A national park that once boasted of having over 40 tigers six years ago, has repeated the Sariska story. State's minister for forests Rajendra Shukla confirmed on Friday what was being suspected: that the last resident tiger of the reserve sighted early this year is untraceable.
There are only two borrowed tigresses, translocated from nearby Kanha and Badhavgarh, left in the park. These were meant to accompany the last of the tiger at Panna.
A special investigation team, headed by former chief of Project Tiger P K Sen, was sent to Panna by National Tiger Conservation Authority last month. The team conducted an inquiry and interviews — all on camera — to now claim that Panna has lost all of its own tigers. The team members visited Panna again on June 10 and rechecked park's logs and documents and went back to New Delhi on Friday. The team's final report on the disappeared tigers is expected to be submitted to the Centre by the end of this month.
As the central team of wildlife investigators left, forest minister Rajendra Shukla admitted that the tiger count in Panna was zero. The state government, he said, has formed a committee to fix responsibility for the disappearance of tigers from Panna.
The latest investigation is in sharp contrast with a report published in the June 2008 edition of an environment magazine, where state principal chief conservator of forests H S Pabla had claimed that Panna was flourishing with tigers. However, in December last year, a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) found only one surviving tiger in the national park.