The Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh may now get a male tiger, a week after the Prime Minister's office decided to relocate two tigresses to the reserve. The big cat population at Panna had fallen below three from eight in a span of two years since 2006.
Two days after the state’s Chief Conservator of Forests, H.S. Pabla, was not able to sight a tiger in the 540 sq km reserve, he told HT on Saturday that he was not adverse to the idea of relocating even a tiger. "If required we will even relocate a tiger to Panna," he said.
After getting a nod from PMO, the sate Forest Department has decided to relocate two tigresses from neighbouring Bandhavgarh tiger reserve to Panna next week. "All preparation has been completed to relocate two tigresses to Panna by end of February," Pabla said.
But despite independent tiger experts like Dr Radhu Chandawat and Valmik Thapar, who are also members of a committee to revive tiger population in Panna, saying that relocation of tigresses without the male tiger would not work, Pabla was confident that the only surviving tiger will return once the tigresses are there.
"This week I found evidence of tiger presence. The animal may have moved out of the core area. That happens. He would return. We are monitoring the situation," he said, contending that the government would do everything to preserve tiger population at Panna.
The Wildlife Institute of India had taken pictures of the tiger at Panna, said to be in a bad shape.
"The better option is to relocate a tiger couple like it was done in Sariska," said Dr Chandawat, who had first alarmed the state Forest department and the Supreme Court of the declining tiger population at Panna four years ago.
“When the only tiger in the reserve is not traceable we don't understand how the relocation of the tigress will help? It is a premature exercise," Arun Singh, a local wildlife watcher, said.