Thursday, July 26, 2007

Corbett has highest tiger density: Study.

Amitabh Sinha Posted online: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 0000 hrs

Corbett National Park has been one of the most well-known tiger reserves in the country. A recent study indicates that the park now might also be the area with the highest tiger density in the world.

A survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India across 200 sq km of the reserve yielded a count of 74 tigers — quite a high number for that small an area. Final figures of the countrywide survey are expected in October, and these will confirm whether Corbett indeed has the world's highest tiger density.

Director of the reserve Rajiv Bhartari said that the new distinction poses greater challenges for the Corbett management. “The challenge has grown manifold. Now everyone knows how big the treasure is. It becomes that much more difficult to preserve that treasure,” Bhartari said in a telephonic interview with The Indian Express.

Bhartari said the reason for the good number of tigers in Corbett lay in good conservation efforts over the last 70 years. “We have a long history of good conservation. The staff practise the best traditions of conservation and over the last few years, there has been a marked improvement in the facilities inside the national park,” he said.

He said that the involvement of the local youth in protection efforts and the lower incidences of forest fires in the last few years were some of the areas where the management had made good progress. “Between 2005 and now, the number of forest fires have gone down considerably because of better fire protection measures in the park,” he said. Less forest fires mean better ecosystems, which leads to an increase in the population of tiger preys and helps in better sustenance of tigers.

“We also involved about 200 youth from nearby villages for protection duty. That ensured better protection for the tigers and at the same time made the locals a stakeholder in conservation efforts,” Bhartari said.

Another move that contributed in making Corbett a better tiger habitat was the successful relocation of three villages on the southern boundary of the reserve, Bhartari said. “We had started relocating these three villages in 1994. The relocation of the fourth village is now being done. The real impact of that move is being known only now. The tiger sightings have become more common in that area,” he said.

Bhartari said another challenge was to ensure that the tiger was safe even outside the reserve, and to ensure this, the management was trying to increase patrolling efforts.


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