Tuesday 5th February, 2008 (IANS)
A tiger safari may soon be launched near Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park where the big cats will be left in large enclosures for tourists to sight them easily.
The move also aims at reducing territorial fights among tigers.
Plans are afoot to start the safari in the Sawai Mansingh sanctuary near the Ranthambore park, over 170 km from here, and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has already given the go ahead to the project, sources in the forest department told IANS.
The state government has to now send the proposal to the centre for its approval.
The Sawai Mansingh Wildlife Sanctuary is located 16 km from Ranthambore and 10 km from Sawai Madhopur and is part of the buffer zone of the national park.
According to the forest department proposal, the safari will be developed in an area of 70-80 hectares in the sanctuary that is spread over 127 sq km.
As per plans, huge enclosures will be made in which tigers from Ranthambore would be left to roam freely, making it much easier for tourists to sight the wild cats.
The area will have three pathways – two for visitors and the third only to be used by the forest department. The safari will be conducted by either jeep or canter vehicles.
The need for a separate tiger safari was felt as wildlife experts were of the view that increasing tourist traffic was affecting the habitat of tigers in Ranthambore.
The project also aims at resolving another problem – reducing fights among tigers over territory attributed to the increase in their population. According to a recent census, the tiger population in the park has increased to 32 from 26 in 2005. Additionally, there are an estimated 13 cubs.
This increase in numbers often results in bloody clashes between the wild animals to mark their territory. The Ranthambore National Park covers an area of around 500 sq km if combined with the Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary.
Ranthambore was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and gained the protection of ‘Project Tiger’ in 1974. By 1981 it got the status of a national park.
Tigers are territorial and fiercely defensive. A tigress may have a territory of 20 sq km while that of males range between 40 and 80 sq km. But their territory varies from forest to forest, depending on the area’s ecology.
And territorial disputes between the wild cats are quite violent. They not only sustain injuries but at times also starve for days.
Two tigresses had clashed bitterly in the Khemcha Kund area of the park in June last year and one of them was severely wounded.
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