The charges from various wildlife activists that T-24, popularly known as Ustad, was shifted from Ranthambhore national park to captivity in Sajjangarh biological park under pressure from tourism lobby gets some credence from a letter of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) seeking regulation of tourism in the park where T-24 roamed, monitoring of the big cat through camera traps to check his behaviour and to ask foot patrol staff to use caution in his territory.
After Ustad reportedly killed a forest guard on May 8, the NTCA wrote a letter on May 12 to the state wildlife authorities “to regulate tourism appropriately so that interface of T-24 with the tourists was minimised”.
“The authorities were also asked to monitor the big cat through video camera traps for signs of aberrant behaviour. The authorities were advised to take due diligence before declaring the animal as a man-eater, if required, as a last resort,” said a senior officer of NTCA, seeking anonymity.
The apex authority for conservation of tigers in the country had also sought a detailed report from Rajasthan chief wildlife warden RK Tyagi with regard to killing of the forest guard. But instead of regulating tourism and following the NTCA guidelines, the wildlife authorities relocated the tiger to captivity at Sajjangarh biological park in Udaipur on May 16 on the basis of a report of a committee formed at local level.
The wildlife authority sent a two-member team to Ranthambhore to probe the matter, the report of which is awaited.
According to an official communiqué of NTCA, the authority came to know of tiger relocation from “different sources” and not from the state wildlife authorities.
Though Tyagi has been claiming that the NTCA was informed about tiger relocation, senior wildlife officials have denied receiving any report.
A senior official at NTCA, who wished not to be named, said no letter was received from Rajasthan wildlife authorities forcing the authority to form a two-member appraisal team to probe the situation in which the tiger was relocated and to check whether all statutory requirements were fulfilled.
Ban on entry of pvt vehicles in Sariska
Alwar: The Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) management has decided to ban the entry of private vehicles taking devotees to the Pandupol Hanuman Temple, situated 31 km inside the forest, officials said on Monday.
The decision has been taken keeping in view the safety of relocated tigers and to avoid disturbances in the tiger habitat.
Presently, tigers ST2, ST3, ST4, ST6, ST7, ST8 and ST2’s two cubs use the habitat. The park management has made alternative arrangement to ferry devotees to the temple.
“The Rajasthan State Roadways Transport Corporation (RSRTC) has started plying shuttle buses - four buses from Sariska Gate and one from Tehla Gate. The initiative got a good response on the very first day (May 23), as 851 devotees visited the Pandupol temple in a total of 23 trips,” STR field director RS Shekhawat told HT.
Shekhawat said the shuttle transport system will “greatly” reduce disturbance to the tiger habitat, as only 23 vehicles went inside Sariska in a day, as compared to earlier 250 carrying the same number of pilgrims. “The tariff of Rs 23 is also much cheaper than the cost of using your own vehicle,” he added.
Earlier, people living in nearby areas used to visit the Pandupol Temple of Mahabharata era, especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays, on motorbikes. Some devotees used to come in four-wheelers from Alwar, Delhi and Haryana.
The new decision will also help the park management to generate revenue. While earlier the entry for Alwar residents was free in the park, outsiders had to pay Rs 250 per vehicle. But after the ban on private vehicles, everybody has to pay fare to avail the shuttle bus service.
Besides, the park management used to deploy guards on every 2-3 kms to ensure that devotees do not stray inside the jungle and do not throw garbage. But after the start of shuttle service, there was no need to deploy the guards, thus adding to the STR coffers.