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`Inviolate` tiger areas ordered

The Asian Age
New Delhi
14 Mar 2012

In order to sustain a sound tiger population, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has issued orders to declare 600-1,200 square kilometres as inviolate areas for all the tiger reserves in the country.

In all, an area of 32,578.78 sq km has been notified by 16 tiger states as critical tiger habitat under Section 38 (5) of the Wildlife Protection Act.

These states include Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, UP and Uttarakhand.

Bihar is expected to notify a critical tiger habitat at Valmiki Tiger Reserve shortly.
Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan said that the size has been arrived at on the basis of “sound empirical data” and villagers living in these inviolate areas were being given a relocation package of `10 lakh per family to help them move to non-forest areas.

Ms Natarajan denied that the environment and forests ministry planned to ban tourism in these inviolate areas though she did admit that advisories had been issue to all the tiger states to regulate the inflow of tourists visiting these tiger reserves.

Poaching is on the rise again and the minister admitted in the Rajya Sabha that while 14 tigers had been killed by poachers in 2011, eight tigers have been killed in the first two months of 2012.

Despite these killings, the minister maintained that the tiger population was “showing an upward trend”.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority recently launched an initiative to monitor the tiger population on a annual rather than a four-year basis.