Can Ranthambhore support the tigers it has now?

May 6th, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by admin  

By Joydeep Gupta
New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The Ranthambhore national park in Rajasthan, one of India’s oldest and best-known, now has over 40 tigers. This is good news in a country where only an estimated 1,411 are left in the wild. But experts are divided on whether the forest can support this number. With 14 cubs spotted at water holes inside the national park during a recent state government-conducted tiger census, the number has definitely gone above the carrying capacity of the national park, former Project Tiger chief P.K. Sen said Tuesday.

But another eminent wildlife expert, Belinda Wright, pointed out that in the early 1980s Ranthambhore had even more tigers.

Sen, who now works with the volunatry organisation Ranthambhore Foundation, said unless steps were taken to increase the area of the national park by including the adjacent Sawai Man Singh sanctuary, these cubs would push the older tigers out of the forest once they grew up.

“The Sawai Man Singh sanctuary has good sources of water and a good prey base (for tigers). But it has no tigers now because it does not have the same protection level as the national park. It should be immediately made part of the national park,” Sen said.

The Ranthambhore national park is guarded by the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary.

However, Belinda Wright pointed out that cubs were not territorial and once they grew up they would have plenty of space to spread, “because the national park is only one-third the size of the tiger reserve, and all the tigers are now concentrated in the national park”.

Asked if the Sawai Man Singh sanctuary should be added to the national park area, Wright said: “Why upset the balance? It is far more important to concentrate on the Keladevi sanctuary (adjacent to the Ranthambhore park), to the north.”

Given the increase in tiger numbers in Ranthambhore, there has been a proposal to relocate some of the tigers to the Sariska national park, another reserve forest in Rajasthan, which lost all its tigers a few years ago.

Asked about this, Sen said some tigers could be relocated “as long as they are assured protection. Sariska can support up to 20 tigers. They vanished due to lack of protection”.

Wright said: “The state government is addressing the protection problem. So yes, there can be relocation, if it is done appropriately, if it is not done hurriedly and if it is not done in the heat of summer.”

The Ranthambhore national park was among the first set of forests to be provided protection when India started its Project Tiger in 1973 in an effort to protect the big cats.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Environment |