Villages exiting Sariska for tiger re-entry
Jan 21, 2007 - 8:22:30 AM

Jaipur, Jan 21 - Rajasthan has finally begun relocating villages that fall inside the Sariska reserve, having drawn severe flak for the disappearance of tigers from the sanctuary. This will be followed by a re-entry of the big cats.

Initially, two of the 15 villages in the reserve will be shifted out. The move is expected to help curb poaching, which had led to the entire tiger population there being wiped out.

'The process has started for shifting over 150 families living in the two villages - Bhagani and Kankarwari - inside the Sariska forest area,' L.N. Dave, Rajasthan's forest minister, told IANS.

The shifting of these two villages is part of the project to rehabilitate tigers in Sariska. The government plan to relocate all the 15 villages situated inside the reserve in a bid to rehabilitate tigers.

The families would be rehabilitated in Barod Rundh village near Behror in Alwar district. The government has identified 22,267 hectares in Barod Rundh.

'Work to open bank accounts for these families has been started and maps of their houses have been made,' he added. The minister said am NGO's help was being sought to devise a means of living for these displaced families.

Each family is likely to be offered a package of two hectares, a house and Rs.100,000 as compensation.

'The union government has sanctioned the Sariska recovery plan a couple of months back,' an official of Rajasthan's forest department said.

After relocating the villagers, the government proposes to undertake the project of rehabilitating and conserving tigers.

The forest department and the state government had faced severe criticism from all political and non-political quarters on the complete disappearance of tigers from the Sariska reserve.

Officials are planning to leave a tiger couple in Sariska in the next two-three months. After a couple of months, three more tigers will join them. These tigers will be fitted with radio collars so that their activities can be monitored.

A report in March 2005 by the Wildlife Institute of India confirmed that there were indeed no tigers left in the Sariska tiger reserve even though an official census in 2004 had indicated that between 16 and 18 tigers lived in the reserve.

Enquiries revealed that the Sariska tiger population had been wiped out by poachers.

The Sariska tiger reserve was established in 1978, having once been a hunting preserve for the royalty. At present it covers an area of 881 sq km of undulating plateaus and wide valleys, with a vegetation of mostly dry deciduous forest. Apart from tigers, other wildlife includes leopards, jungle cats, hyenas, jackals, sambars, spotted deer, blue bulls and wild boars.

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