NTCA team to inspect Valmiki Tiger Reserve
Sanjeev Kumar Verma, TNN 21 August 2009, 04:02am IST
PATNA: A five-member team constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) would soon visit the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar to take stock of the reserve which has witnessed a sharp decline in the number of felines in the past few years.
According to the latest tiger census conducted through the camera trap method, the reserve is now home to around 10 tigers. This figure stood at 33 in the previous census conducted in 2004-05. The other major problems of the reserve include non-adherence to statutory provisions, human interference inside the reserve and shortage of field staff.
All the team members R K Singh, Samir Sinha, R P Mishra, Rathin Burman and D S Srivastava belong to different NGOs and are experts in different aspects of wildlife.
Sharing details, one of the team members, who requested anonymity, told TOI, "The team has a four-fold task appraisal of tiger, co-predators and prey animals, protection efforts taken vis-a-vis the advisory of NTCA, administrative and ecological problems and managerial issues, and suggestions for restoring the area and eliciting local support to strengthen protection."
He said that the reports prepared by the team would work as a guide for the NTCA as far as taking focused steps to strengthen the management effort to better the tiger population are concerned.
Regarding the likely dates of their visit to Bihar, the member said, "The team has to visit four tiger reserves, including the Valmiki Tiger Reserve. The details would be worked out very soon." The three other tiger reserves which the 5-member team would visit are Palamu in Jharkhand, Manas in Assam and Indravati in Chhattisgarh.
Alarmed over the dwindling tiger population across India, the NTCA, around a week ago, constituted three teams, all having members from NGOs only, to assess the ground realities in eight critical tiger reserves. The NTCA DIG will be the member, convenor, of these three teams.
Apart from the aforesaid four reserves, the NTCA teams would be visiting Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram, Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal, Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh.
Terming the NTCA team's proposed visit to the state a good step, a field official of the Valmiki Tiger Reserve said, "As the appraisal of the reserve would be done by non-governmental individuals, the NTCA would get to know the real problems facing the reserve which would be different from the existing practice which allows only official reports to reach the policy makers."
The NTCA has been constituted in accordance with the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006. After the amendment, it has become a statutory body. Earlier, it was known as Project Tiger and did not enjoy any statutory powers.