Monday, June 27, 2016

Kanha National Park - Man Killing - Indian Tiger Conservation Issues

Kanha National Park
Madhya Pradesh - India

It is always unfortunate whenever a human is killed by a tiger. The tragic circumstances always manage to raise eyebrows - even among the avid conservatives. Human life is precious but we have ordained it to be supreme and in the gluttony we have forgotten about other life forms.  

It is because of this attitude that animals like tiger, rhino and many more have lost ground and are on the last leg of survival. I have rarely come across stress on increasing land for other forms. Anyway India takes the lead but is this enough? 

Unlike the Asiatic Lion which has survived and come out of the brink of extinction in South Gujarat in India the tiger lags much behind. There are more than five hundred lion in 22000 sq km in Gujarat and expanding.

Though this has created problems for large agglomeration of rural and small town folks the acceptance seems to be remarkable. Man animal conflict persists but it seems that there are many sympathizers of the big cat hence assuring its survival. The lions are slated for relocation in Kuno Papur in Central India which has still not taken place thank to parochialism.     

The tiger has been nowhere lucky in reserves in India where it now survives. Stray tigers outside the protected areas have no guarantee of survival. While many reserves are still not adequately protected unlike Kanha, Ranthambhore etc the populations in well managed parks has increased marginally. This does not ensure the animals survival. 

Large inviolate protected areas are need of the hour with adequate protection. This seems highly improbable in a populous country like India. For well managed parks like Kanha the problem stems from buffer zone which is not inviolate much disturbed by habitation and free movement. 

Tiger By John Matthai
A wise step has been taken to bring a large patch of forest in Khatia Zone under tourism thus assuring any further degradation. The buck stops here or does it? There are options to create more tourism areas using other blocks of forests in buffer - if any viable. 

Wilful relocation with adequate compensation for reclamation and expansion of existing forest land are a possibility.  Such efforts have been successfully made  at Laldang near Corbett Tiger Reserve. 

But this is impossible at many destinations due to immense complexities - social and political.             

There are large number of villages at Kanha buffer. Many have been trans located from the core zone.  The humanity is accompanied with overabundance of live stock and redundant agricultural land claimed from forest land. Usually single paddy crop takes place. 

The successful conservation in the reserve has populated tigers in all canopies. The animals have moved in or enlarged their territory in all viable tracts of buffer forests. Like lions in South Gujarat they have learned to be inconspicuous in human infested corridors. But unlike their cousin the Bengal tiger cannot inhabit open country - and degraded forests with no prey.  Hence widespread habitation by their expanding populations seems improbable.     

Hence tragedy occurs.     

An old man went into the forest and was killed by a tiger. This seems to be an accidental killing since no more such incident has taken place.  But the implications of this act of intrusion resulted killing does not augur a great future for the tiger in India. Human encroachment is rarely put to blame which is squarely transferred to the beleaguered predator.    

The big cats are still endangered. Reclamation of forests and creating i
intact ecosystems is one of the solution.