A dense forest on India-Nepal border in Union minister Maneka Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh, known for its man-eating tigers, is India’s newest tiger reserve.
The government last week notified the country’s 43rd tiger habitat in Pilibhit, which has a population of 22 to 26 felines in 726 square kilometres of the Terai arc landscape spreading from Uttarakhand eastwards to Bihar and is considered to be one of the finest homes for tigers in the region.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had some time ago asked the Uttar Pradesh government to notify Philibhit reserve forest as it had a “good” density of 4.5 tigers per 100 square kilometres, which sometimes led to tigers straying out of the ‘unprotected’ zone and attacking local villagers.
The tigers of Philibhit had claimed at least 10 human lives in the past four years.
“Most of the people killed used to live inside or close to the forest. But after intervention by us and the forest department, the conflict had come down,” said Anil Kumar Singh, team leader of Terai arc landscape in the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF).
With the habitat getting declared as a tiger reserve, NTCA officials said the UPA forest department will get Central funds for building infrastructure inside the forest to provide protection to tigers.
Centre will provide funds for relocation of villages falling within core or buffer zones.
The Central funds will also be provided for improving the habitat to so that prey population for tigers can improve.