TNN, Dec 26, 2010, 03.29am IST
DALTONGANJ: It's official. Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) has been categorized "poor" by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) responsible for categorizing tiger reserves under Project Tiger. Set up in 1974, PTA is battling hard for its existence and survival.
According to a member of the Management Effective Evaluation (EM) of NOTCH, D S Srivastava, the conclusion was reached after two evaluations of the tiger reserve. Consequently, a report was sent to NTCA in Delhi for placement before the Prime Minister. NTCA was set up in 2005 on the recommendations of Tiger Task Force, constituted by the Prime Minister.
Srivastava elaborated, "A preliminary evaluation was done by a team of experts, including Sameer Sinha of Wildlife Trust of India, Rashin Burman of Assam, Rajinder Mishra of Chhatisgarh and R K Singh of Delhi. Another evaluation was done this November by Prerna Bhendra and R L Singh among other wildlife experts."
A total of 120 parameters decide on the grade. "PTR scored the lowest in all from funding, its usage, habitat management, grassland management, anti-fire measures and anti-poaching measures," he said.
But he added that there are reasons why Palamu has fared so poorly. He felt that for starters, the government should fill up all vacant posts of ground staff. "There are only 39 forest guards in PTR as against the sanctioned strength of 179," he revealed.
The other task before the government is to prioritize wildlife management. "It is not on the agenda of the government it appears. No government fund has come to PTA since nine months," he rued.
The challenge, he said, is to revive and restore its glory. In 1974, there were 22 tigers and 32 elephants. Today the number of tigers has dwindled whereas the number of elephants has shot up to 225. "The other task is to strike a balance between human and wildlife population as the man-animal conflict has taken a toll on PTA," he said.
Srivastava favoured people's participation in the management of wildlife. There should be smaller monitoring units entrusted with the maintenance of PTR.
When asked if it is possible for PTR to regain its old position, he said, "First, people living in and outside PTR must feel that every tiger, every elephant is theirs and that protecting them is their responsibility. Only then will the situation improve in PTR."