Lucknow, May 18
There is welcome news from the Dudhwa National Park. If the preliminary report of the tiger count is to be believed, the number of tigers in the reserve may have gone up from the 110 recorded in 2003.
Speaking to The Tribune, chief wildlife warden Mohammad Ahsan said more than 175 pugmarks have been lifted from the Dudhwa National Park, along the Indo-Nepal border in Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh during the just concluded eight-day long census. The exercise is held once in two years.
According to Mr Ahsan the final count of the tiger will now be ascertained through a process of elimination. “We will study the pugmarks and through the process of elimination will arrive at the final figure of tigers in the reserve.” The final picture will be clear after a fortnight.
The number of tigers at Dudhwa acquires significance in the wake of reports that the animal may have disappeared altogether at Sariska. It was following the concern expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the dwindling number of tigers attention once again has been focused on the big cat.
Besides the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Sariska Tiger Reserve, environmentalist Ashok Kumar’s has sought an extension of the probe to other Project Tiger locations.
Explaining the significance of having sufficient number of tigers in the forest, Mr Ahsan said it was not just a question of the extinction of an animal species. “The diminishing number of tigers, in fact, points out to a deeper malaise — the destruction of their natural habitat. It includes their food, water environment. In fact, it is the health report of our forests”.
The Steering Committee of Project Tiger in its meeting on April 12 this year had listed the tiger reserve amongst the ones that deserve special attention for the control of the poaching of tigers.
Tigers at the Dudhwa National Park, spread over an area of 490 sq km are coming under increasing pressure from human settlements. There were reports some time ago of a tiger being run over by a train that goes through the forest.
After the creation of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh was left with the Dudhwa National Park, Katarnia Ghat, Kishunpur, Suhelwa and Sohagi Barwa sanctuaries. Dudhwa had been declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1965 and a national park in 1977.