There may soon be another option to spot tigers in the hills of Uttarkhand - Rajaji National Park - in addition to extremely popular big cat destination, the Corbett National Park.
The Uttarakhand Forest Department has decided to ask the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to declare Rajaji National Park as a tiger reserve.
The Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India has caught around 30 tigers on camera in Rajaji in the last few years making the state forest department believe that the landscape could become a substitute tiger home if right protection measures are enforced.
Rajaji has got most of its tigers from nearby Corbett, who move out to nearby forest areas because of high density of big cats. Unlike other big animals, tiger are solitary in nature and carve out their own territory by pushing out physically weaker tigers. As a result many tigers move out to adjoining forest areas such as Rajaji which may not have protection of the Corbett standard.
That problem can be sorted out if Rajaji is declared as a tiger reserve.
The NTCA provides special funding to tiger reserves to combat poaching and provide inviolate (disturbance free) core tiger area to foster breeding tiger population. The authority gives Rs. 10 lakh for relocation of every family living inside a tiger reserve.
State government officials said that around 500 families are living inside Rajaji, which are a constant threat to tigers there. About a month ago a tiger in Rajaji national park was allegedly poisoned by local villagers fearing that it would attack their cattle. "A few years back many tigers in Rajaji were poached," a senior state forest department official said.
Forest officials said a proposal to seek tiger reserve status for Rajaji would soon be submitted to NTCA.
Once Rajaji get the coveted tag it would be a delight for wildlife enthusiasts from the Capital region. They would have an option to spot tigers just seven hours (around 250 kms) from Delhi. Incidentally part of Rajaji is on the way to Corbett.