'Sarsika model vital for tiger conservation'

Inspector General of Forests, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), P S Somasekhar said, Sariska, which lost face due to disappearance of tigers, as a result of poaching, helped save other tiger reserves with its experiment in reintroduction of tigers from Ranathambore forests.

Addressing a gathering during the 16th Conservation Speak at the Zoo Auditorium, organised by Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, here, on Tuesday, he said, the success of the reintroduction and restoration programme in Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan has give confidence to take up conservation activities with renewed energy.

Besides giving in-depth insights into the behaviour of tigers, the experiment that was launched in 2008 has raised hopes of conservation of other species also. “Immediately after the experiment was taken up in Sariska, a similar programme was launched in Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh,” he said.

A news report, based on a tiger census in Sariska, came as a rude shock to both the Forest department and also the Rajasthan government in 2004. The report, which claimed that the tiger population in Sariska Tiger Reserve has disappeared, that was followed-up in other media, however, was a turning point. Both the department and the State government woke up and swung into action, he said.

Somasekhar, a native of Purigaali in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district, who has worked out of Karnataka for the most part of his career, said, reintroduction is a valuable tool today for conservation activities.

The official, who was the director of the Sariska programme, said, even though the project was a challenge, its fruits were sweet.

Earlier to our programme, only two such initiatives had been taken up across the world — introduction of puma concolor in a forest at Florida of the USA and African wild dogs in Africa. We had no model for tiger reintroduction, so, every minute detail had to be planned, he said.

Even before our programme was proved to be a success, the Panna project yielded results. Breeding was reported from there before in Sariska.

From seven tigers reintroduced, Sariska now has six new cubs, while in Panna the total population of tigers has gone up to 17 from six tigers, Somasekhar said.

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