Where do the they go? Proposed highway through Sariska encroaches through tiger territory

A proposed four-lane highway through Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan has risen the hackles of environmentalists and conservationists everywhere.

FP Staff June 03, 2015 15:16:17 IST
Where do the they go? Proposed highway through Sariska encroaches through tiger territory

A proposed four-lane highway through Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan has risen the hackles of environmentalists and conservationists across the country.

Wildlife activists are quoted as saying in a Hindustan Times report that they dread the prospect as the Rajasthan government's plan eats into the predator’s already shrinking habitat.

Where do the they go Proposed highway through Sariska encroaches through tiger territory

Representational image. AFP

According to honorary wildlife warden Anil Jain, the government cannot widen the road without first consulting the state wildlife board and the national tiger conservation authority (NTCA), as the state highway passes through the core area of the tiger reserve.

The proposed highway encroaches on the territory of two tigers in the national park, and it will destroy the animals natural environment with traffic and human interference.

Reports suggest that Sariska currently has 13 tigers, including two full-grown males, seven females and four cubs and the latest tiger count in February reported a 30 percent rise since 2010 numbers.

"We have now 2,226 tigers presently in 47 tiger reserves. This is a great achievement," Environment minister Prakash Javadekar had said in February.

Firstpost's Sandipan Sharma earlier noted that India holds 70 percent of the world’s tiger population but that’s more of a sobering responsibility than a bragging right. The pressure on land will continue to increase.

This comes at a time when the tiger population is slowly increasing for the first time in decades and conservation programmes have finally begun to show results notwithstanding the hazards of their decreasing habitats due to the rise in human population and poaching.

There is enough evidence to suggest that encroachment into national parks and wildlife reserves only hurts the attempt at conservation. In Assam,  elephant movement through Assam has severely been affected due to the setting up of railway tracks and also construction of concrete walls along the railway line.

The concrete walls and railway line have not only fragmented the habitat of the wild elephants and other wild animals but also prevented animals from coming down to Deepor Beel for food and recreation.

It may be mentioned here that more than 110 train-hit death cases have been recorded in India since 1987 out of which 90 per cent cases were recorded in Assam, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand. In Assam alone, nearly 50 wild elephants had died in train-elephant collisions, reports the Assam Tribune.

The adverse effect of encroachment on wildlife habitat has been visible in Assam where between 2001 and 2014 there have been 245 human deaths and 146 elephant fatalities in Sonitpur. They have no place to go and the plight of Assam's cornered elephants is getting worse. In one year, 2001 alone, 32 elephants died in Sonitpur in retaliation for a spike in human casualties. And the brunt of those deaths have been felt in the tea gardens that dot the district as they have seen 70 percent forest loss.

The Rajasthan government after spending years and crores to help save the tiger should definitely weight the consequences before it rushes in to develop the controversial highway.

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