She is single and ready to mingle but a corridor is coming in the way of her love life.
She, along with her lone female friend, is stuck in the western part of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, the 1075.17 sq km breeding ground for tigers in Uttarakhand. They haven’t had a mate so far because the busy and noisy Chila-Motichur corridor, which splits the reserve into two halves, stops tigers on the eastern side from crossing over to the western side, or the other way round.
Result: breeding in the western part has stopped, while it is thriving in the eastern side with a total of 11 tigers and tigresses.
The corridor roars with traffic. Overlapping the 1.2-km-long- and 3-km-wide corridor are a stretch of National Highway 58, railway track, an army dump and a village.
Army ammunition dump
The army dump that stores arms and ammunition is spread across 155 acres on the Rajaji National Park, blocking animal movement across the corridor. Constant drone of heavy vehicles moving in and out of the ground have put pressure on the corridor.
In 2008, a request to shift out the dump reached the Central Empowered Committee. It directed the state to provide the army a plot equal in size to its land in the forest. However, the government has so far failed to offer land to the army’s satisfaction.
Neena Grewal, the director of Rajaji Park, told Hindustan Times, "The government hasn't been able to replace the land yet".
According to sources, over 100 acres of land was identified as replacement in Bibiwala near Rishikesh, but the army hasn't yet approved it.
Around 18 km of railway track passes through the forest and 1 km of it overlaps with the corridor, upping noise pollution and scaring away tigers.
The National Board for Wildlife in March this year approved electrification of the track to increase the speed of trains that otherwise chugged laboriously through the forest track that connects Dehradun and Haridwar to Delhi and other parts.
National Highway 58
Round-the-clock traffic on National Highway 58 on the Dehradun-Haridwar route is one of the most important reasons for the rising pressure on Chilla-Motichur corridor. Three flyovers are under construction since 2012 to provide alternate routes to vehicles, and open up the space for animal movement. But, it will take a few more years to complete the work, says forest sources.
Bivash Pandav, a scientist in Wildlife Institute of India, said, "The government should push for immediate construction of flyovers to ease pressure on Chilla-Motichur corridor. If we are able to rehabilitate Khandgaon 3 village and divert traffic through flyovers, then 70% of the pressure on corridor is eased.”
“But, the tigers will still have to live with other interference," he said.
Tiger population in Uttarakhand has risen from 227 in 2010 to 340 since the 2014 census, becoming the second State in the country after Karnataka with the highest number of tigers.
Translocation of tiger couple
Worried over lack of breeding, a proposal was made to translocate two tiger couples from the Corbett Tiger Reserve to the western part of the Rajaji reserve, which is half the size of the 570 sqkm eastern part.
Officials believe it's important to translocate two tigresses along with two tigers because if translocated tigers do not breed with inhabitant tigresses, then translocated males will have an opportunity to breed with the females that were brought in.
SS Sharma, the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF), said, "The idea is to kick start breeding of tigers in the region."