JAIPUR, May 8: The Sariska National Park in Alwar district of Rajasthan is gearing up for the return of the majestic tiger, with wildlife department officials and tiger experts speeding up the relocation of tigers into the park from Ranthambore sanctuary in Sawai Madhopur district.
The return of the tiger to Sariska will also see the ouster of the current top predator in the reserve, the leopard, on top of the food chain by its bigger cousin, though wildlife experts say the coup will be smooth and bloodless.
The leopard had been ruling the roost as the apex predator in Sariska since 2004 when the last of the tigers in the reserve disappeared due to excessive poaching. At the moment there are more than fifty leopards in Sariska.
Speaking to ‘The Statesman’ from Ranthambhore Tiger Sanctuary, Mr Rajpal Singh, member of the state government’s Empowered Committee on Forest and Wildlife pointed out, “Tigers will automatically replace leopards as the primary predator of Sariska. But leopards always avoid conflict with tigers by preferring to keep themselves away from tiger territory.”
Sprawling over an area of 866 sq kms, the Sariska National Park is the home for a number of lesser carnivorous animals including wild dog, jungle cat, hyena and jackals that prey upon sambhar, nilgai, chitel and wild boar.
As far as the tiger relocation is concerned, the wildlife officials have decided to transfer at least one tiger and a tigress from the Ranthambhore reserve into Sariska by next month.
Almost six months back, the state forest and wildlife department began relocating human settlements from the periphery of the sanctuary. Vehicular movement on the two state highways running through the reserve is also being curbed in view of the fact that a number of animals were being mowed down by automobiles.
The officials are also finalising the mode of transport to be arranged for the tigers and might even rope in the services of Indian Air Force helicopters to airlift them from Ranthambhore to Sariska. The road option too remains open, says Mr RN Mehrotra, chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan.