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Monsoon Magic At Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

  Barely a week before Bandhavgarh national park closed down in June for three months, a large number of wildlife lovers visited the park. Many of them returned disappointed as there was no tiger sighting while  asmall number of visitors was still lucky to have some wonderful “chanced sighting “of the big cat. Like the one in Tala range. Barely a week before Bandhavgarh national park closed down in June for three months, a large number of wildlife lovers visited the park. as she took mud bath for a while amd also quenched thirst before proceeding to meet her four 5-month old cubs hidden in a cave deep in the jungle. Rare tiger sighting happens during the monsoon when plenty of water is available in every nook and corner of the jungle and the green forest cover revives after a few showers diminishing the chances of tiger sighting even if it is sitting very close in the bushes.But the showers have left a magical touch in the jungle. Jungle Make Over   After the pre-monsoon showers, the 

Where Did Ranthambore Tigers Vanish ? NTCA Must Find An Answer

Ranthambore  Tiger,

Tigers continue to ‘vanish’ from Ranthambore  national park and the issue is linked with “over population of tigers” in the park, extremely famous for wildlife tourism world over. The big cats in Rajasthan, it seems, ‘enjoy’ cordial relations with the politicians of the desert state, perhaps more because of tourism. While in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, the presence of tiger or a tiger reserve is linked with restrictions and the state government is sitting over many proposals to notify more protected areas , Rajasthan politicians apparently associate it with their achievement. Recent notification of Ramgarh Vishdhari as a tiger reserve  in Bundi, the home district of Om Birla, Lok Sabha speaker, is the latest example. Ramgarh was accorded the status of tiger reserve to resolve the issue of disappearance of tigers from Ranthambore . For the first time, the state government admitted that 13 tigers were missing from Ranthambore  from January 2019 to January 2022. 

NTCA Begins Inquiry into Tiger Crisis

Ranthambore  Tiger,

 In fact, since 2009, Ranthambore lost as many as 30 tigers. As park tourism flourishes  and the population of neighbouring villages increased, there were more frequent fatal human-tiger interactions and poaching. For the first time there was an official admission of  “vanishing of tigers”. In February 2022 while answering a question in the  state assembly, the Rajasthan government stated  that there was no evidence of two tigers (T-20 and T-23) since 2019, seven tigers (T-47, T-42, T-64, T-73, T-95, T-97 and T-92 ) since 2020 and four tigers ( T-72, T-62, T-126 and T-100) since 2021. They include an entire family of 5 tigers including 3 cubs  and the male tiger ‘Fateh’ or T-42 .As if waiting for an official admission, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) also swung into action and constituted a committee to hold an inquiry.

Also readTale of Missing Tigers of Ranthambhore: 4 More Takes the Count to 34 

 The committee comprises DIG, NTCA Shivpal Singh and wildlife crime control bureau, joint director, HV Girishato, to carry out investigations. Government officials in Rajasthan believe that the tigers jostled for space resulting  into territorial fights  and their migration from the park. Ranthambore needs to be decongested, they believe.  They also feel the tigers are required to be given a safe passage to move out and Ramgarh Vishdhari would connect it with Mukundura Hills tiger reserve. Ramgarh has been a conflict zone for tigers and has a violent history of poaching. In 1991, villagers had clashed with the forest department. Presently, there are reports of “rampant mining”   in the  Ramgarh . In June 2021, the chief conservator of forests (CCF), Kota, had sought a factual report on illegal mining of sandstones inside Dabi range of Ramgarh Vishdhari. 

Illegal Mining in Tiger Corridors 

Ranthambore  Tiger,

Illegal mining has also been an issue in Ranthambore, the single largest expanse of dry deciduous Anogeissus pendula forest left intact in India. The Aravali and the Vindhyan hill ranges meet  here and this confluence is perhaps the reason for the rich bio-diversity of the Ranthambore. The Kundera and Talada ranges in Ranthambore accounted for over half the 13 tigers gone missing since last year. Although forest department officials blamed congestion and territorial fights for the tiger disappearance, wildlife activists said the tigers were vanishing from the two zones where illegal mining and human-animal conflict were high. Officials said six of the 12 tigers went missing between January 2020 and March 2021 from the Kundera and Talada ranges, spread across 125 sq km.  Conservation biologist Dharmendra Khandal, who has been raising the issue for long,  said a considerable number of tigers missing from a specific area indicate abnormal activity. 

Also read: Lonely Tiger Returns Home After One Decade

“Infighting for territory cannot happen at only one place in the reserve.” He added that the number of tigers that went missing has been highest in 18 years, and that too from specific parts of the reserve. Sources in Rajasthan forest department said that , “  revenge killing of tigers” can also not be ruled out in Ranthambore after the tigers kill livestock. They said, “we need to simplify our rules to compensate the villages for cattle loss”. Interestingly, the two ranges are among the three major migratory routes for the big cats, indicating the tigers may have left the reserve. These routes lead to Karauli and Bundi in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno Palpur.  Equally interesting is the forest department has not found any traces of the missing tigers either in Karauli or Bundi. Tigers also did not reach Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno national park. So where did they go ? Or they were poached as they step out from Ranthambore in the absence of a safe tiger corridor? The crisis reiterates the  significance of  tiger corridor conservation .The NTCA  inquiry should  answer these concerns of wildlife lovers.  

Politicians Push For Tigers 

Ranthambore  Tiger,

 Ramgarh  is the fourth tiger reserve  which would require a lot of work to upgrade  its degraded forests  before a tiger could be translocated, expected before the next general elections. Sariska was the first successful tiger relocation project in Rajasthan after all its tigers were poached. If sources in the desert state are to be believed, many politicians want to emulate the Sariska model in their home turns to showcase achievement. “Though this has more to do with tourism in Rajasthan, conservation automatically follows”, a forest department official quipped.   After assembly elections parliamentary polls will be scheduled in 2024 so politicians are pushing for the new tiger homes in their constituencies. 

Also read:  Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor Becomes Conflict Zone

Rajasthan government sources claimed former CM Vasundhara Raje and her MP son, Dushyant Singh, were keen on tiger relocation to Durrah range of Mukundara Hill Tiger Reserve in Jhalawar district while the urban development and housing minister of Rajasthan Shanti Dhariwal wants tigers in Seljar range of the same reserve in Kota district. Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla wants tigers to be relocated to Ramgarh Vishdhari .Another MP  Diya Kumari, who represents Rajsamand in the Lok Sabha and has expressed concern over Ranthambore tigers , is also reportedly pushing for Kumbhalgarh sanctuary , which is in her constituency.A tiger was last spotted in the Aravallis in Kumbhalgarh, about 50 years ago.

Images Source: Ranthambore National Park


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