National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has come down heavily on the Madhya Pradesh government for construction of tiger safari inside Pench National Park without due permissions, stressing it was “detrimental to tiger dispersal” and would expose the big cats to “poaching”.
NTCA has written to MP government on the ongoing construction of tiger safari inside the Pench Tiger Reserve. HT has copy of the letter. In the letter to chief wildlife warden, NTCA says, “the ongoing construction of the tiger safari in Pench, in violation of various rules and regulations, is detrimental to tiger dispersal in human dominated landscapes which exposes them to poaching events”. The letter further says that a similar issue may arise with the proposed safari at Bandhavgarh tiger reserve”.
Pench Tiger reserve has 40 to 45 tigers in the core and 16 in the buffer according to wildlife officials. Since January 1, nine tigers of Pench have died, including five in the buffer area. Pench Tiger Reserve is spread over 1179 sq kms including 411 sq km core and 768 sq kms buffer in Seoni and Chhindwara districts
In September last year , activist Ajay Dubey had complained to the NTCA about construction work on tigers safaris in Pench Tiger Reserve and Bandgavgarh Tiger Reserve without the permission of the competent authority.
In the letter, NTCA clearly points out that the tiger safaris were being constructed without due permissions. “Safari comes under the definition of zoo, for which it is mandatory to follow statutory provisions of the wildlife (protection) act, 1972…the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has issued guidelines for the establishment of new zoos under section 38 H (1A) of the wildlife (protection) act 1972, which mentions that no zoo shall be established without obtaining prior approval; of the CZA”, the letter says.
Dubey said the letter to MP government has exposed the corruption in the state wildlife department. “If there is no permission for tiger safaris, how did the wildlife department create a financial head for the construction of the tiger safaris. This is pure corruption . And I will file a petition on this issue in the high court”, he said.
Dubey said at a time when MP was recording the highest tiger mortality in the country, the authorities concerned should have focused all their attention on saving the tigers, not constructing tiger safaris without due permissions.