Thursday 14th February, 2008 (IANS)
The forest department in Rajasthan has finally woken up from its slumber and plans to ban the free entry of visitors to the Sariska tiger reserve that was posing a threat to wildlife.
The state government, considering the presence of several religious places inside the tiger reserve, had made entry free on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the benefit of devotees. But the measure led to increased vehicular movement, disturbing the free movement of wild animals.
Wild animals were also exposed to threats of poaching and accidents. The noise and air pollution due to the movement of vehicles also threatened their existence.
But now the department plans to ban the entry of private vehicles into the reserve and also proposes to levy entry fees on visitors.
‘Private vehicles would only be allowed till the entry gate of the tiger reserve after which our vehicles – under all likelihood to run on CNG – would take the visitors to places they wish to visit in the reserve,’ a forest department official said.
‘The state government seems to be fully in agreement with the plan. However, getting the required number of CNG vehicles is yet to be sorted out,’ he added.
Even the central government had asked the state government to control the heavy rush of vehicles in the reserve during these two days before the rehabilitation of tigers could begin in the reserve.
‘It is a step in the right direction. I hope they implement it soon and it does not remain only on paper,’ Naresh Kadyan, People for Animals (Haryana), told IANS.
The Sariska tiger reserve, originally a hunting preserve of the erstwhile princely state of Alwar, was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. In 1978 it was declared a Tiger Reserve. The total area of the park is 866 sq km.
Some of the wildlife found in the reserve includes the leopard, jungle cat, hyena, jackal, chital, sambar, langur, wild boar, four-horned deer and many species of birds.
In the past, the forest department and the state government have faced strong criticism for the disappearance of tigers from Sariska. A report produced in March 2005 by the Wildlife Institute of India confirmed that there were no tigers left in the reserve.
Now, as part of the government’s plan to rehabilitate tigers in the Sariska reserve, villages within the reserve are being relocated to make space for the big cats.
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