Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wildlife Trust of India moves SC to save big cats

2 Sep 2008, 1441 hrs IST,PTI

NEW DELHI: Opposing the proposed expansion of national highway in Madhya Pradesh's Pench Tiger Sanctuary, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has moved Supreme Court to save the big cats from impending vehicular-traffic disaster.

In a petition filed recently, the WTI has alleged that upgrading of National Highway 7 to 4/6 lane from 627 km to 635.7 km on the periphery of Pench Mowgli Sanctuary of Pench Tiger Reserve in Seoni district would take toll on wildlife due to road hits, thus reversing the efforts undertaken to save the big cats and ecosphere in the region.

The petition has come close on the heels of opposition from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) member-secretary Rajesh Gopal who in a recent standing committee meeting of National Board for Wildlife called the move (expansion of highway) as an ‘end of the tiger reserve.’

Advocate Ritwick Dutta appearing for the WTI submitted in the apex court that forest of South Seoni and Nagpur Forest Divisions in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra forms very important corridors for wildlife from Kanha to Pench.

"It is extremely ecologically sensitive as to maintain the genetic diversity of the highly endangered species like Tigers and Gaur," the lawyer pleaded alleging that the widening of the road connecting Nagpur to Jabalpur will create lot of disturbance and fragmentation in the area.

It may lead to the permanent change in the movement pattern and the behaviour in the animals, he said and sought the concerned authorities to be restrained from further construction in the area.

There have been at least 91 road hit cases which include death of Tiger, Chinkara, spotted deer, barking deer and black buck from 1996-2005, Dutta said implying that further expansion of the road will result into increased speeding vehicles at the cost of wildlife.

Ashok Kumar, a wildlife expert from WTI cited the report "Status of Tigers, Co-predators and prey in India, 2008" published by Wildlife Institute of India and NTCA which stated that, "Kanha-Pench Landscape is one of the best landscapes sprawling over 16,000 km squire area with good tiger population and needs to be protected."

This (area) would ensure the linkage between the big cat movements and foster prey-base population, the report said adding that an inviolate space of 800-1000 sq km is required to maintain a viable population of 80-100 tigers.

The petitioner has sought court direction to the concerned authorities to opt the proposed alternate road alignment or any other road alignment which poses minimum threat to the wildlife corridor linking Kanha National Park and Pench Tiger Reserve.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Earth/WTI_moves_SC_for_big_cats/articleshow/3436544.cms

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