50% of tiger reserves in bad shape
Gyan Varma / DNA
Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:43:00 AM
The country’s big cats are most vulnerable in their own homes. A study by the ministry of environment and forests has found that 16 of the country’s 37 tiger reserves (that’s about 50%) are in terrible condition. The reserves were mainly graded on density of tiger population.
“The study takes into account the density of tigers in each reserve and how well protected they are,” said Jairam Ramesh, the minister for environment and forest. “In all reserves, tiger density is low or very low,” said the minister.
There has been a steady decline in India’s tiger population, with more than 100 tigers dying in the past three years. The 2007 census on the big cats revealed that there were only 1,411 left in the country. Reserves exclusive to the big cats, such as Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Sariska in Rajasthan, fared no better. A majority of tigers in them was either poached or they killed in man-animal conflicts, which incidentally is the second most important cause for tiger deaths in the country.
Sariska is so short of tigers that the Centre has decided to send there two big cats from the Ranthambore reserve in Rajasthan. Panna. where 30 tigers died in the past one year, is just as depleted.
To prevent further damage, tiger reserves are working on an elaborate security plan to protect theit inhabitants. “We have asked officials from each reserve to prepare a detailed security plan that can be implemented in six months. We will also run a security audit of the original plan at the end of the six month period,” said a source in the ministry.