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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tiger Conservation: Tiger Corridors in Muddle

Though a lot has been done for the survival of the tiger, it is still not enough. The growing population of tigers in some protected areas is throwing new challenges to the wildlife managers. The population of this big cat is nowhere out of the brink of extinction.  

Tigers need more space if their populations have to increase. But most of the space is taken over by human settlements including those in the buffer regions, and in vital corridors adjoining protected areas. Most of the corridors in India are mired in conflicts especially those that are hinderance to massive road projects aka development.

As per law no development activity is allowed within 10 km of mandatory buffer.    

The Pench - Kanha corridor was mired in such conflict between the Green Tribunal and Nagpur Bench of Mumbai High Court. The Court was in favor of expansion of highway that transacts through this crucial corridors meant for migration of tigers and other animals.

Tigers migrate a long distance if the prevailing conditions do not favor them in the place of residence. This is applicable to other animals as well. The migration provides additional shelter to animals and enables gene transfer which is vital activity since it prevents inbreeding which could be fatal to coming generations of the big cats.

Pench - Kanha corridor is one of the few unfragmented patch of forests which has made interbreeding possible between big cats of both the tiger reserves. Widening NH7 was proposed in spite that it would result in substantial damage to the forests as result of axing of trees. As a mitigating


solution elevation of the highway had been proposed, but that still involved axing of large number of trees.

Well to cut short development has won what with MOEF easing clearances for developmental projects that transact through niche habitats. A number of corridors vital for the survival of tigers are facing some or other kind of dilemma in India.  These connecting forests are home to wide variety of flora and fauna including the endangered species.

The muddle is formed between Green Tribunal, Courts, NHAI, WII and MOEF. The tug of war continues over large swathes of  forests that could be vital for saving the beleaguered animals that constitute the wildlife of India.

Though those in favor of saving the wildlife have proposed mitigation measure albeit at substantial increase in the cost of the projects. But this is the correct approach even if there is increase in the cost since the eventual aim is to save endangered animals for extinction and thus protect our environment and inheritance.

Conservation of our vital forests is mired hopelessly in developmental projects. These include not only highways but industrial belts, mining, settlements and other resource utilization.

Very few viable corridors remain in the country and most of these are not privileged enough to have a legal status akin to the protected areas.

Interesting News Articles

Expansion of Pench Kanha Corridor 

MOEF & Tiger Corridors