The central and Uttar Pradesh governments have initiated steps to give the state its fourth tiger reserve.
If all goes well, the famous Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary will soon add to Uttar Pradesh’s three existing tiger reserves -- Dudhwa, Amangarh and Pilibhit.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the union ministry of environment and forests, had some time back proposed the new tiger reserve and sought a status report from the Uttar Pradesh government about the Suhelwa sanctuary.
Now, the UP government is planning to take forward the NTCA’s proposal to convert the Suhelwa sanctuary into a tiger reserve.
“Considering the centre’s advisory to convert Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary into a tiger reserve, the Uttar Pradesh government has now decided to take the proposal forward,” a senior official of the UP forest department said.
“After Suhelwa, Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary in Banda will be the next one to be converted into a tiger reserve,” added the official. The Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 230 sq km and has rich flora and fauna.
The centre’s move to convert the Suhelwa sanctuary into a tiger reserve is part of its larger plan to convert all tiger habitats in the country into tiger reserves to conserve big cats. Spread over an area of 452 sq km, the Suhelwa sanctuary covers Balrampur, Shravasti and Gonda districts and also touches Mahadevpuri forest in Nepal.
Out of about 2,226 tigers in India, about 118 are found in Uttar Pradesh. Around 70% of the tiger population of the world is found in India.
It was after concerted efforts of the UP government that Pilibhit Wildlife Sanctuary was notified as a tiger reserve on June 9, 2014. After Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, which was notified in 1987, Pilibhit has the largest number of big cats in Uttar Pradesh. The Amangarh Tiger Reserve in Bijnor, which touches Uttarakhand, was notified as a tiger reserve in 2012.