THE UTTAR Pradesh Government seems to have learnt a lesson, albeit the hard way.
Having been forced to submit an affidavit for conservation of Sarus (state bird) to the Central Empowered Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, the State Government has on its own taken the initiative for the protection of tigers in Uttar Pradesh.
In line with the Sarus Conservation Society, the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department would soon be setting up a Tiger Conservation Society, which it claims as the first of its kind in the country.
The department received a letter in this regard earlier this month, following a preliminary meeting between the government and forest officials.
According to the 2005 census, the tiger population in UP is 272 with 80 per cent of the tigers found in Terai belt along the Indo-Nepal border in the forests of Lakhimpur-Kheri, Bahraich, Bijnore, Pilibhit, and Maharajganj districts. Dudhwa, Kishanpur and Katarniaghat forests are situated in the Terai region. Dudhwa has the maximum number of 55 tigers followed by 40 in Katarniaghat, while a dozen tigers are in Bijnore forests.
As in the sarus society, the tiger society, too, would have representatives from Regional Transport Office (RTO), Irrigation Department, police, NGOs, and wildlife activists.
Wildlife activists Billy Arjan Singh and Belinda Wright (wildlife activist) have been named members of the society. Experts from the Wildlife department would also be the part of the team, said UP’s Chief Wildlife Warden Mohammad Ahsan. As regards the formalities left for the formation of the society, Ahsan said that the state government has accepted it (tiger society) in principle, and added that it would get a corpus fund. He further said that the society would concentrate on Dudhwa and neighbouring sanctuaries.
Sources in the forest department said efforts were being made to achieve a more accurate method of tiger census. They said the department was also willing to take help from the scientists of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for DNA census method. It may be mentioned that NGOs and wildlife activists have been criticising the forest department for furnishing wrong figures of tigers.