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Experts Anxious Till Cheetahs Adapt Kuno National Park, Tourism Not Priority

  International cheetah experts are closely monitoring the movements of 8 spotted cats released on September 17 in Kuno National Park of central India state of Madhya Pradesh. Cheetahs are quarantined for a month and only trained Namibian handlers are allowed to “take care” of the  fastest land animal housed in different small enclosures. The animals are watched from machaans –  watch tower situated about “100 meters away”. Amidst continuing negative media reports on the success of the translocation project, the biggest concern of the Union ministry of forest, environment and climate change (MoEFC&C)   is adaptation  of new environs. “Let's see how soon the cheetahs adapt Kuno”.   Indian Officials Optimistic   Cheetahs are housed in smaller enclosures, the one shown on televisions sets when PM Narendra Modi released them on his birthday on September 17. After one month, they are likely to be released in a bigger enclosure. In another one month or so, they will be released in a

Corbett Controversy: Misplaced Priorities of Politicians

One of the most celebrated tiger reserves of the world, Jim Corbett national park was in the news last week, albeit for the wrong reasons. Union minister of state for forest and environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey  had expressed his intentions to  rechristen   the reserve as Ramganga national park when there are a number of environmental issues pending in Uttarakhand . But the minister chose for renaming of the park which was almost immediately turned down by the state government. This is one of the top safari destinations of the country and very popular among tourists. When the state forest minister Harak Singh Rawat declined the Union minister’s idea on name change, he had in mind the potential threat to tourism activities. “A name change will hit tourism in Uttarakhand as the park is popular, among international tourists, as Corbett,” the minister said.  Interestingly, both the ministers, it seems, did not have on their priority list  the issues pertaining to protection of forest and environment while dealing with the subject. 

Corbett: Tourists' Delight 

The Union minister mentioned in a museum guest book on his tour of the park that the name of Jim Corbett national park should be changed to Ramganga national park. Snuggled in the foothills of Himalayas along the river Ramganga, Corbett offers the best game drive and walking safari experiences making it one of the most popular tourist destinations.  Wildlife lovers expressed their displeasure over the probable name change.  “We should be focused more on preserving the  flora and fauna  of the park rather  than wishing  for  cosmetic changes”, they said.  

Also readProtect This Wildlife Corridor To Save The Ganges

“Our political leaders, instead of creating controversies about the names, must try solving the problems of our tiger reserves”, writes environmentalist Valmik Thapar . “Wildlife governance is at its lowest ebb, both at the Central and state government levels. The Prime Minister has not held a meeting of the National Board for Wildlife for seven years. It is supposed to be held twice a year”, he added.   If tigers were able to express themselves, they would have definitely wanted the ministers to look into the issues of poaching, check illegal mining ,felling  and encroachment of forest land and stem the rot of illegal mining and not the  politics behind  name change.

Nandhaur and Surai : Tiger Reserves in Waiting in Uttarakhand 

In states the across the country, political will for wildlife is at its lowest, says Thapar. No politician  would want curbs and restrictions in  their constituencies  to antagonize voters . One such example of lack of political will in Uttarakhand has not allowed Nandhaur sanctuary to become a tiger reserve, despite a clearance given by the centre.  Situated in Terai Arc landscape ,Nandhaur stretches till the Nepal border and has 40 tigers and healthy prey-base, said sources in the NTCA. 

Also readBalloon Safari In Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Creates Controversy

Four years ago in  2017, there was a motion  to  have two more tiger reserves in Uttarakhand.  The State Board for Wildlife had approved the plan to declare Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary in Nainital district, which stretches till Nepal border, as well as the Surai range bordering Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit — as tiger reserves. To make the area inviolate and safe for the tigers, the board also gave green signal for increasing the ex-gratia amount for kin of those killed due to human-wildlife conflict to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2 lakh. In case of severe injury, a victim would have got a compensation of Rs 2 lakh. Earlier it was Rs 50,000. But it did not materialize because the state lacked political will, said a local official. With the number of tigers steadily on the rise , the authorities felt upgrading the two jungles to tiger reserves , necessary for the conservation of tigers.  

Also readAvni's killing: Core Issue of Tiger Corridors Lost in Oblivion

“The number of tigers at Nandhaur sanctuary when it came into being in 2012 was nine which rose to 27 in 2018. The number of big cats is believed to be around 40 in 2021”,  state forest department sources said.  Situated close to the Nandhaur river in the Kumaon region and spread over an area of 269.5 sq km, Nandhaur is a precious piece of forest and needs to be protected.  However, the officials are apprehensive that the steady rise in the tiger population over the years and the growing trend indicated  “it would be difficult to  handle it  efficiently  for long with the limited resources”.  “ The situation is rather delicate from the point of view of tiger conservation”, officials said.  But the residents of Chorgaliya, which lies in the vicinity of Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary, had  opposed the proposal of Nandhaur tiger reserve saying that it would infringe upon their rights over the forests. BJP MLA Naveen Dumka supported them. He said, “ I respect their sentiments  as there is no need for the tiger reserve.” Following the opposition, the government withdrew its proposal. It would have been better if the Union minister for forest had advised the government to  issue notification for the tiger reserve status to the two jungles. 

Cover Image: Courtsey Jim Corbett national park 


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