Ranthambore tigers may be flown to Sariska

May 9th, 2008 - 7:32 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Three tigers that are to be relocated from the Ranthambore national park to Sariska tiger reserve should be shifted in a helicopter, officials have suggested to the Rajasthan government. This will save the tedious four-hour road journey of some 240 km between the two sanctuaries and help avoid exposure to scorching heat - the air route would take just 45 minutes.

“We have already informed the state forest minister and he told us that he will consider the matter,” Mahendra Singh Kachawa, an advocate at the Rajasthan High Court and wildlife activist, told IANS by telephone Thursday.

“As of now, we are positive that it will eventually be decided.”

Ranthambore, which is one of India’s famous national parks, is a 494 sq km reserve in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district. It is home to the Royal Bengal tigers.

The three tigers from Ranthambore will move to Sariska tiger reserve next month as part of a plan to reintroduce the big cats there.

Rajasthan has 34 tigers, all in Ranthambore. Sariska is bereft of any. All its tigers were killed by poachers some three years ago.

Kachawa said there is a helipad just outside Ranthambore. The big cats could take the 15-minute ride up to the helipad by a truck and from there it is just about half-an-hour helicopter ride to Sariska.

“The government is intending to take help from the army to move the tigers. At present, the government and the chief wildlife warden are discussing the matter,” Sariska park director Somashekhar said.

Kachawa said that in the past, all injured or displaced tigers which were moved from Ranthambore and adjoining areas to Jaipur by road for treatment had died. Jaipur has the most advanced veterinary hospital, some 170 km from Ranthambore.

The deaths could be due to the strong dose of sedatives being given to the animals at the time of travel to keep them under control, he added.

“We don’t want to take any chance this time,” he said.

In 2005, Kachawa had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) to stop the vehicular traffic passing by Sariska.

Last week, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court directed the Rajasthan government to stop the traffic on the portion of the Jaipur-Alwar highway that passes through the reserve.

“The CEC has asked the government to stop the traffic on that stretch or else wrap up the Project Tiger in Sariska,” Kachawa said.

The highway has been a major problem for the park managers. The passing vehicles created disturbance and threatened the animals. A number of endangered animals, including tigers, were killed in road accidents in the past.

“Construction of an alternate route, some seven kilometres from the sanctuary, has already been completed last year, but it is yet to be operational as some groups with vested business interests oppose it,” he said.

The bypass was built at a cost of $20 million.

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