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Palamu reserve seeks donations to save tigers

Officials say funds will be utilised for habitat improvement, locals’ awareness on animal protection and reducing man-animal conflict.

ranchi Updated: Dec 18, 2016 22:47 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Hindustan Times
Jharkhand news,Palamu tiger reserve,Donations sought
A tiger eats its kill at Palamu Tiger Reserve where the number of big cats has come down to three. (HT File Photo)

Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) authorities have sought donations from people and organisations to improve habitation in the only park for big cats in Jharkhand and run the newly constituted tiger conservation foundation (TCF).

The Centre and the state contribute ₹10 crore, including ₹2 crore for habitation improvement annually, which, forest department officials said, is not sufficient as most of the amount is released under a planned head. PTR authorities often struggle to get money for sudden requirements, called the contingency fund, a source in the department said. “Public donations will help deal with such issues,” he said.

“There is a provision in the PTR tiger conservation foundation that donations could be accepted from the state, Centre or governments of other countries, people, organisations and private agencies,” PTR field director MP Singh said.

“The objective of appealing for donation is to involve common people in wildlife conservation. The donations will be spent on habitat improvement, locals’ awareness on animal protection and reducing man-animal conflicts,” Singh said.

Constituted in 1974 under the Project Tiger, PTR had 22 tigers in 1972. According to the book ‘Main Baagh Hoon’ written by former Jharkhand principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Pradeep Kumar, the reserve recorded its highest tiger population in 1995 at 71. The number declined to 44 in 1997, 34 in 2002, and 10 in 2010. Spread over 1026 sq km, the reserve has only three tigers left, the latest tiger census says.

DS Srivastava, Jharkhand wildlife board member, said unrestricted human interference, food shortage, rising water crisis, forest degradation and negligible security guards were major factors for decline in tiger population. “Frequent Maoist-police conflicts in the reserve area add to the threat to wild animals. Big animals like tigers and elephants are leaving the jungle,” Srivastava said.

He said the reserve has only seven forest guards against the sanctioned strength of 135. “Absence of forest guards increased security threats to animals in the reserve,” he said. PTR officials seized on Saturday over 200 Munia birds, protected under schedule-IV of the wildlife protection Act 1972, from Belwatikar market of Daltonganj. The rare birds were caught from the reserve area.

“We have been making appeals in vernacular dailies for donations to the TCF to protect wildlife and forest,” the PTR field director said. “Once donations will start coming, we will make a PTR development plan. If we get good donation, we will also hire forest guards for forest protection besides initiating a livelihood programme for local villagers.”

PTR at a glance

Reserve area: 1026sq km

Number of tigers: 3

Annual grants: ₹10 crore

Central grant: ₹6.5 cr

State grant: ₹3.5 cr

Forest guards: Seven

Sanctioned posts of forest guards: 135

Major trouble: Unrestricted human interference, poaching, food shortage, police-Maoist conflicts

First Published: Dec 18, 2016 22:47 IST