India’s rising tiger population may get a further boost as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has suggested creation of six new tiger reserves.
This is in addition to five wildlife areas for which in principle approval has been accorded but final notification is still awaited. India as of now has 41 notified tiger reserves.
“For consolidating new tiger reserves 5 have been given in-principle approval, and for another 6, the States have been advised to send proposals,” said the new NTCA guidelines on eco-tourism notified on Monday and submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The proposed tiger reserves range from across country from Uttar Pradesh to Goa to Tamil Nadu. “The aim is to create new tiger habitats to create strong breeding populations to foster growth of the magnificent animal. With tigers, we also want to strengthen other wildlife species that may not find much place in other policy initiatives,” said a senior NTCA official.
Among the six tiger reserves proposed is Bor Wildlife Sanctuary of just 63 sq km protected areas and would be probably smallest tiger reserve in India if Maharashtra government agrees to the proposal. In 2010, wildlife experts have spotted some tigers in the wildlife area through camera traps. “If the area is notified as tiger reserve, the Central government will provide money to increase the core area to support a sustainable breeding population,” an official said.
Another wild zone under consideration is Nagriza wildlife sanctuary which as per the last count had 34 species of mammals, including tigers 166 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles and four species of amphibians.
Neighbouring Goa could have its first tiger reserve in Mhadei Sanctuary where the tigers have been under threat due to illegal mining around the habitat. Most of the tigers in the sanctuary are believed to have moved from Karnataka where the tiger population has exponentially grown. The state government did not agree to notifying the sanctuary as a tiger reserve allegedly due to pressure from the strong mining lobby.
The NTCA has also asked Chhattisgarh government to submit a proposal to declare Guru Ghasidas National Park, named after state’s satnami reformist, as a tiger reserve. The park is the result of the carving of Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh in November 2000 and it was formerly called Sanjay National Park (in Madhya Pradesh). Apart from tigers, the forest is known for Sal trees and extensive patches of bamboo.
Another new tiger reserve proposed is on Indo-Gangetic plan bordering Nepal in Suhelwa eastern Uttar Pradesh. The park is known more for vultures and turtles than tigers. But, the officials believe that it could be good tiger habitat like another one in the state Dudhwa.
The sixth one proposed in by intergrating Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel area, Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuaries and Varushanadu Valley in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu).
The five reserves for in principle approved has been given are Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), Ratapani (Madhya Pradesh), Sunabeda (Odisha), Mukundara Hills (including Darrah, Jawahar Sagar and Chambal Wildlife Sanctuaries) (Rajasthan) and Satyamangalam (Tamil Nadu).