Special tiger habitats will house `spillover`population
There are new hopes for the growing number of tiger population in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. Thanks to the initiatives of the State Forest Minister Bina Kak that proposal has been drawn up for setting up of special tiger habitats to accommodate the “spillover” of big cat population from the reserve.
This involves restoration of corridors and consolidation of landscape in the Kaila Devi National Park in the northern part of the reserve. The first phase of the proposal involves a cost of Rs 250 crore for relocation of 23 villages. The proposal has been prepared with the help of experts from Tiger Watch, NGO, working for wildlife conservation.
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is home to about 52 tigers, of which 25 are cubs alone. But the 1,394 sq kms of the reserve is in discontinuous patches fragmented by villages and human habitats. And despite the fact that Kaila Devi sanctuary constitutes half of the tiger reserve, the source tiger population of the reserve is largely concentrated in the smaller portions of Ranthambore National Park (RNP) and Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary of the reserve, which barely adds up to about 550 sq kms.
As per the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a minimum of 800-1,000 sq. kms of inviolate area is required for a viable population of tiger (20 breeding tigresses).
“The basic objective behind the project is to improve the connectivity between RNP to Kaila Devi thereby facilitating the smooth movement of the growing tiger population besides freeing some more space for tiger habitat,” informed State Forest Minister Bina Kak. She has shown special interest in this regard by personally visiting the area to review the feasibility prospects.
In the recent past, one tiger had moved to Kaila Devi wildlife sanctuary but only to return to RNP. Yet another tiger had also moved out to Palpur-Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, she pointed out, stressing that increasing tiger population in Ranthambore National Park demands more space.
According to GV Reddy, chief conservator of forests, who is working out the details of the project, the first phase of the project involves the relocation of 2,400 families in 23 villages. It envisages the opening up of a major corridor connecting RNP to Kaila Devi.
The other important component proposed is the consolidation of the northern part of Kaila Devi sanctuary, which will free at least 300 sq kms.
This would also help in clearing up a major corridor linking up the Kuno Palpur reserve in Madhya Pradesh, he pointed out,
After the relocation of 24 villages, the Kuno sanctuary is all set for wildlife. It is, thus, important for Ranthambore to be connected with the sanctuary for smooth dispersal of tiger population between the two States.
While tiger T38 from Ranthambore is already settled in Kuno, T47 has also been found to visit the area often. This proposal will, thus, strengthen the isolated western population of tigers in the country while strengthening the corridor between Kuno and Kailadevi.