Rajasthan may get another tiger reserve in the Kumbhalgarh area of Udaipur division

The four-member committee constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has found Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary in Rajasthan as a potential tiger reserve, officials said
Representative Picture (HT photo)
Representative Picture (HT photo)
Updated on Oct 11, 2021 04:18 PM IST
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The four-member committee constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has found Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary in Rajasthan as a potential tiger reserve, officials said.

After conducting a survey of the area in the last two months, the committee has found sanctuary potential as the fifth tiger reserve but also raised certain concerns.

The Committee has prepared the draft report, which will soon be submitted to the NTCA. The report suggests marking a 2053 sq km area for tiger reserve. The reserve will be spread across four districts – Udaipur, Pali, Rajsamand and Sirohi.

The committee included retired IFS officers, RN Mehrotra and NK Vasu, and assistant inspector general of forest, NTCA, Hemant Singh.

Till 1970, Kumbhalgarh was a natural habitat of big cats with a good prey base and less human interference.

In July, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change sanctioned Ramgarh Vishdhari Sanctuary in Bundi as the fourth Tiger Reserve of Rajasthan. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur, Alwar’s Sariska Tiger Reserve, and Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve in Kota have over 100 big cats.

A senior official of the forest department familiar with the development said after the survey the committee has considered Kumbhalgarh sanctuary, a potential area for tiger habitat, provided certain conditions given are fulfilled by the state government. The conditions include adding more area to the sanctuary, increasing prey base, relocation of the villages, and sensitizing people about the big cats. He said the draft report is ready, which will soon be submitted to the NTCA.

Another official said Kumbhalgarh sanctuary is a narrow strip with a hilly area, which is not feasible for tigers but for leopards. The committee has recommended increasing the protected areas by adding 1150 sq km of territorial forest and wasteland. The committee suggests developing a breeding centre for the prey base in the reserve.

He said the committee suggests developing the habitat in two phases. In phase-I, the 1150 sq km land - Udaipur, Pali, Rajsamand and Sirohi - should be transferred to wildlife, which currently is under the revenue department. In phase-II, the tiger reintroduction plan will be made from 2024-25 by the NTCA, and initially, one or two tigers could be released.

The official said around 20 villages need to be relocated and two roads crossing the forest should be shifted to elevated roads.

On factors assessed to develop a tiger habitat, Retired IFS officer Sunayan Sharma said a host of things are studied, such as whether the area in past had tiger population, is the area suitable for tiger habitat and has prey base, adequate area, water, protected environment; can the tiger population survive and breed and can the area hold sustainable population.

Sharma welcomed the initiative of having another tiger reserve and said, “What is the problem in releasing tigers in another habitat? The important thing is to ensure their safety. The Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is getting overpopulated and needs to be balanced by the relocation of big cats.”

He said the territorial disputes are increasing in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and relocation is a good solution.

Member of Parliament from Rajsamand and NTCA member, Diya Kumari said, “I had raised the issue in Lok Sabha, even apprised former and current forest minister over the issue. Kumbhalgarh has huge potential to be a tiger reserve. The area used to be a tiger habitat five decades back, even today it can be developed into one.”

Besides, the area can also be a good habitat for leopards. “If things go right then this would be the fifth tiger reserve of the state. I have also written to the CM asking to speed up the proposal for the same to NTCA,” she said.


    Sachin Saini is Special Correspondent for Rajasthan. He covers politics, tourism, forest, home, panchayati raj and rural development, and development journalism.

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