Tiger safari in Pench violates laws, will lead to poaching: Conservation body
The Madhya Pradesh forest department failed to take 'prior approval' before construction of tiger safari in Pench and Bandhavgarh, the body said.
New Delhi: The apex body for tiger conservation, NTCA, has found alleged violation of laws in construction of tiger safari in Madhya Pradesh's Pench National Park and expressed fears that it would expose the animal to poaching.
The national park is famous as home to Mowgli, the protagonist in English writer Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority, a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, has written to the state government saying the ongoing construction of tiger safari inside the national park "is detrimental to tiger dispersal" and "exposes them to
The Madhya Pradesh forest department has failed to take "prior approval" from the Central Zoo Authority before construction of tiger safari in Pench and Bandhavgarh, it said.
The move assumes significance as many wildlife activists have been objecting to the creation of tiger safari in Pench and in Bandhavgarh national parks claiming it harmful for the big cats.
The state government's plan to cut over 550 trees in Pench to make way for the tiger safari was also criticised by them.
Existing guidelines allow establishment of tiger safari in buffer area of a national park or a reserve, in order to reduce pressure from core or critical habitat of the wild cats.
"The ongoing construction of the tiger safari in Pench, in violation of various rules and regulation, is detrimental to tiger dispersal which has altered their land tenure dynamics, resulting in tiger dispersal in human dominated landscapes which exposes them to poaching events.
"A similar case may arise with the proposed safari at Bandhavgarh tiger reserve," the NTCA said in a letter to Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh. Eight tigers have been reportedly killed in and around Pench in last eight months.
It said that any tiger safari has to be in accordance with guidelines formulated by the NTCA, in the line of Central Zoo Authority guidelines. The state government has been asked to take necessary action in this regard.
"The state government is violating green norms to promote unlawful tourism inside the tiger reserve. It may pose danger for tigers living inside them," claimed Ajay Dubey, wild life activist, adding "Madhya Pradesh government must take action against guilty officials".
Dubey had late 2015 written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan against the construction of tiger safari in Pench and in Bandhavgarh national parks.
There are six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh — Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay-Dubri and Pench — which have at least 257 big cats.
While the tiger population in the country was estimated at 1,706 in 2010, it had risen to 2,226 in 2014. Madhya Pradesh ranks third — after Karnataka and Uttarakhand — in tiger population in the country.
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