Centre asks UP to finalise Pilibhit forest as tiger reserve
Sunday, February 15, 2009 : 1900 Hrs
New Delhi (PTI): With number of cases of tigers straying in urban habitat on increase in Uttar Pradesh, the Centre has asked the State government to expedite the process of finalising Pilibhit forest as a tiger reserve for saving the big cats.
“After initially showing keenness to create a home for the endangered cats in Pilibhit forests last year, the State government is yet to submit the detailed plan earmarking buffer and core areas for the proposed tiger reserve. The area has good potential having special type of ecosystem with vast open spaces and sufficient feed for the elegant predators,” Rajesh Gopal of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) told PTI.
He said once it is done, the northern State will have two tiger habitats, Dudhwa Tiger reserve being the first one having an estimated 95 big cats.
“Estimate suggests that Pilibhit landscape spread over around 800 square km has at least 30 tigers and has a good predator base for its survival. Its development would also help in better movement of the tigers in Dudhwa tiger reserve,” Gopal added.
He referred to a Wildlife Institute of India (WII) study which stated that Dudhwa-Pilibhit population has high conservation value since it represents the only tiger population having the ecological and behavioural adaptations of the tiger unique to the Terai region.
Recently, there have been incidents of man-animal conflicts involving tigers in the region. The latest was the case of a tiger who strayed from Pilibhit forest area and has been declared “man-eater” after it attacked two persons in the region.
“Unless the State government is serious in pushing the proposal, all the other efforts to save tigers would go waste. Creation of the buffer area and core area would mean fund flowing to the state for the protection of big cats.
Pilibhit is expected to ease the pressure on the Dudhwa forest reserve and would run through Pilibhit, Kishenpur sanctuary and Khutar range of Shahjahanpur, Gopal said.
With the number of tigers declining to 1,411 from 4,000 in 2002, the government has approved the takeover of eight forest areas under Project Tiger besides Pilibhit. There are 28 tiger reserves in the country.