In a major step towards tiger conservation and to streamline functioning of Project Tiger, all the tiger reserves in the state will become fully autonomous entities under the Bombay Public Trust Act within a one month. The state has three project Tiger reserves - Tadoba in Chandrapur, Melghat in Amravati and Pench in Nagpur district.
At present, project tiger reserves get funds from the central government and the state forest department and are routed through the state government. With the formation of individual autonomous tiger foundations, the central and state funds would be deposited in its account and would facilitate implementation of programmes under Project Tiger without delay. Now every tiger foundation can raise funds and manage for the protection and conservation of tigers in their respective areas.
Dr Nandkishore, chief conservator of forests (Wildlife-Vidarbha region), informed that the decision to set up tiger foundations in the state was taken as per the provisions of Wildlife Protection (amendment) Act, 2006. He said, "The objective of setting up of Tiger Conservation Foundation in tiger reserves areas is to raise funds through various sources for the tiger reserves." Tadoba, Melghat and Pench are the important tiger reserves of the state and their protection is critical for the survival of the big cats in the country in the decades to come.
According to him, the Tiger foundations for three reserves were already registered under the public trust and would function independently as soon as they get a formal nod from the state and the union government. On condition of anonymity, a senior forest official admitted that the setting up of the Tiger Foundation was needlessly delayed because of Maharashtra Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute. Consequently, important works that are vital for protection and conservation are being held up.
The governing body of the foundation met in Mumbai on Saturday and made the necessary changes in the rules and regulation of the foundation for this purpose. The forest minister of the state would be the chairman of the governing body while senior officials of state wildlife wing will be its members. The executive committee of the each tiger foundation consists the representation of local MLA, members of Zilla Parishad, representatives of local Eco-Society and representatives of NGOs. The field director of the reserves would be the chairman of the executive committee. They would work for fulfilling the objectives of the institutions at the regional level.
Meanwhile, Tadoba Tiger Conservation Foundation received a fund of Rs 30-lakh from the Wildlife Conservation Trust. The fund will be used to purchase vehicles, tranquilizers and for the training of the staff of the reserves.
Tadoba tiger project spread over 623 sq kms is the home of rare Indian wildlife, including around 45 tigers while Melghat that is spread over 1677 sq kms in Amravati district have over 55 tigers. In Pench tiger reserves, bordering Madhya Pradesh, is located at a distance of 70 kms from Nagpur and home for around 25 tigers.