Ranthambhore tigers to repopulate barren Sariska

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New Delhi, Apr 20 (UNI) Sariska, which a few years ago was discovered to be the grave of the endangered tiger rather than its sanctuary, is now ready to adopt the big cat again, possibly within a month.

The tiger would come from Ranthambhore reserve currently experiencing a boom in the population of the animal, Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan R N Mehrotra told UNI.

''Intially we would put just one animal, and its companion would be introduced a few months later, and this was being done to see how the newcomer was finding its new habitat,'' he said.

Mr Mehrotra said though no exact date could be given for reintroduction of the tiger in Sariska, it would possibly take about a month.

He said that at present there a total of 35 tigers in Ranthambhore, so it could easily part with a few to enliven the barren Sariska.

The plan to put tiger in Sariska again was mooted about a year ago but was finally cleared by the PMO last month.

The sanctuary had become infamous creating nationwide uproar for having lost all of its tiger population.Works on making it inhabitable for the endangered species was going on fast.

The first task was to remove human habitation which were disturbing the life of the animals, and the Ministry of Forests and Environment had taken up four villages for relocation, according to Mr Rajesh Gopal of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The Centre had increased the relocation package to Rs 10 lakh per family. However, only one village has been relocated so far. The Wildlife Institute of India has prepared a Rs 1.50 crore Sariska tiger recovery plan.

Besides relocation of villages, regulation of pilgrim traffic inside the reserve, and development of areas that serve as buffers between the core of the reserve and the outside world were also important requisites to be completed for reintroduction of tiger.

Sariska forests are located in Alwar District of Rajasthan. It was a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state, but was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955 and a Tiger Reserve in 1978.

The reserve has an area of 866 sq km and is situated 107 km north east of the state capital Jaipur.

It was about three years ago that the news of Sariska having lost its tiger population started coming in, mainly from tourists. A year later in 2005, the state government and the Project Tiger authorities confirmed that the species had disappeared from the sanctuary, in the wake of which a Tiger Task Force was created by the Prime Minister. The Task Force submitted its report in August 2005.

In the revised strategy formulated by the Ministry in the light of the Task Force Report the emphasis was on involvement of the local people in the protection of the threatened animals.

The Task Force Report had said," The protection of the tiger is inseparable from the protection of the forests it roams in. But the protection of these forests is itself inseparable from the fortunes of people who, in India, inhabit forest areas." Sariska is among the 28 Tiger reserves in the country which have come up since 1970.

The Project Tiger had been instituted on the basis of the report of the first Task Force on tiger headed by Dr Karan Singh. It was created after the dwindling population of tigers attracted worldwide attention in late 1960s.

UNI NAZ HS AS1055

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