‘No more pugmark-tracking for tiger count’
8 Jul 2009, 0652 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday told Rajya Sabha that the old system of tiger census through pugmarks was “faulty” and a new statistical measure based on camera trap has been started.
Stating that the number of tigers hovered between 1,150 and 1,600, Ramesh also made it clear that at no cost would India follow US and Chinese model of breeding tigers in captivity. “All tigers in India are in the wild and will remain in the wild,” he said, replying to calling attention on Project Tiger. He said though estimation of tiger population took place once in four years, he will prefer to have it once in two years.
In a debate that saw members cutting across party lines express concern about the falling number of tigers, Ramesh said the best protectors of environment and tigers were local communities. “We don’t need policing. We need incentives for local communities to protect the ecosystem,” he said.
Ramesh said he had already spoken to 200 vangujar families who live in the Jim Corbett Park. “I am going to start social protection force with their help. If it works, we will take it elswhere also. They will be paid and given mobility and connectivity,” he said.
Ramesh said according to the new plan, people living in tiger reserves would be moved to buffer zones while the core inviolate area would have no human habitation. He said about 80,000 to one lakh people will be moved to buffer zones and compensation had been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
Responding to concerns expressed by nominated member Chandan Mitra that no poacher, including notorious Sansar Chand, had ever been punished, Ramesh said his ministry had proposed setting up a National Green Tribunal for speedy trials. “If the Act needs change. I am open to it,” he said, adding that Wildlife Crime Control Bureau was also in place.