Surai and Kilpura ranges of Uttarakhand’s Khatima forest are likely to be included as buffer zone of Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, a forest official said on Wednesday. The move is aimed at securing better conservation of tigers in the region and provide them more space to live.
As a first step, the official said, a public consultation would be held next month between the forest department and local communities of the areas. Date for the consultation is yet to be announced.
A buffer zone lies on outer area of a sanctuary after the core zone. Human activity is prohibited in the core zone but people can live in the buffer zone, which is the added area earmarked for the movement of wildlife. There is little change in life of villagers if their area is included in the buffer zone.
Parag Madhukar Dhakate, the conservator of tarai western division, said Surai and Kilpura in Udham Singh Nagar would be included in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve if local residents did not raise any objection to the proposal during the consultation.
If the residents give their nod to the proposal, Uttarakhand would be linked with one more tiger reserve after Corbett in Ramnagar and Rajaji in Dehradun, Pauri, Haridwar and Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh) districts.
Set up in 2008, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is situated in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Khiri and Bahraich districts. It covers an area of 800 square km and has 36 tigers.
Dhananjay Mohan, additional principal chief conservator of forests, said: “There are 22 villages in the two ranges. We would be starting the process of consultation after which a final decision would be taken by the state government.”
Gopa Karki, a forest department official, said the aim of the public consultation was to tell the villagers about the proposed activity and know their opinion and suggestion.
Besides this, Uttarakhand might get one more tiger reserve as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in February recommended turning Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary into a tiger reserve.
The NTCA is a statutory body of the union environment and forests ministry with an overarching supervisory/coordination role.
The sanctuary, set up in 2012, is spread over 269 square km in Nainital and Champawat disitricts and is home to 21 tigers.
The additional principal chief conservator of forests said the proposal for making the sanctuary into a tiger reserve was in the initial stages. “The NTCA has recommended for making the sanctuary into a tiger reserve. We are mulling the various issues. The state government would take the final decision.”