The Prime Minister’s Office has stepped in to help save the tigers.
The environment ministry on Monday discussed the status of tigers in Panna and other national tiger reserves with some
members of the National Wildlife Board (NWB), which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
With conservationists expressing concern over the decline of the tiger population in Panna, ministry officials said the issue would be discussed as a separate agenda at the next board meeting to be held within a month.
Hindustan Times had first highlighted the Madhya Pradesh forest department’s decision to relocate two tigresses to Panna — after failing to spot a single tigress in the reserve in three months.
Environmentalists claim only one tiger is left in Panna, down from 24 tigers in 2006. Fearing a repeat of the Sariska scandal, where the entire tiger population fell to poaching, the conservationists sought the PMO’s intervention.
Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, who attended Monday’s meeting, said the priority should be to find the exact number of tigers inside the Panna reserve. “The danger is of a repeat of Sariska, where the government refused to listen to warnings by experts,” she said. “The government should tell us the exact number of tigers in Panna. Relocation comes only after that.”
Ministry officials assured the NWB members that their concerns would be taken up with the state government. They said the board would review the tiger protection measures taken in all the tiger reserves, three years after the government accepted the Tiger Task Force’s report to check the declining tiger population.