New Delhi, Mar.19 : The Central Government has formed a committee to assess the tiger population in the Panna Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
The government has also directed the Wildlife Institute of India to look into the matter, Minister of State for Environment and Forest S Regupathy told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Several steps have already been initiated by the government for tiger conservation across the country like financial assistance to 17 Tiger Reserves for deployment of Tiger Protection Force, comprising of ex-army personnel and local workforce, he said.
An amendment in the Wildlife Protection Act has been suggested for the constitution of a National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau, Regupathy informed the lower house.
The Centre has constituted a multi-disciplinary Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau comprising officers from police, forest, customs and other enforcement agencies to effectively control illegal trade in wildlife, he said.
Strengthening of anti-poaching activities, including special strategy for monsoon patrolling, is also part of the action taken by the government, he said.
Under the revised Project Tiger guidelines, the Centre has directed states to relocate or rehabilitate people living in "critical" Tiger habitats, Regupathy said.
In addition, the government has taken steps to provide a rehabilitation package to the communities and tribals who are traditionally involved in hunting, he added.
Earlier this month, a top Worldwide Fund for Nature official in India said that the tiger population in the country has gone down from 40,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to 1,400 at present.
Sujoy Banerjee, the director of WWF India's species programme, warned that there is a serious threat to the remaining tiger population.
"Whenever there is human-tiger conflict, the ultimate loser is the tiger," said Banerjee.
According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, there are only 3,500 tigers left in the world, compared with an estimated 5,000-7,000 in 1982, with the WWF warning that the South China Tiger and the Sumatran Tiger could soon be extinct.
"In many ways the tiger stands at a crossroads between extinction and survival, and which path it takes is totally dependent on us," warned Banerjee.
The Panna Wildlife reserve is the twenty second tiger reserve of India and fifth in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is situated in the Vindhya Ranges and spreads over Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the north of the state. The Ken River, which flows through the reserve.
The reserve has tigers, leopards, sloth bear, wolves, wild dogs, wild boar, hyena, samber, chital, nilgai, chinkara and othe mammals. The tiger, leopard, carcal, four-horned antelope, Indian wolf, pangolin, rusty spotted cat, sloth bear and gharial are endangered species and have been included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.