March 4, 2009 4:26:10 pm
First,Panna tiger reserve lost all its tigresses to poachers. Now,it may have lost its tigers as well.
According to sources in the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) tracking the camera-trapping evidence,there are now no signs of tigers in the once densely populated reserve.
While Madhya Pradesh continues to deny that Panna may have lost all its tigers,it has interestingly asked the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for permission to translocate a tiger to the reserve,calling it part of a long-term plan. The ministry has so far not cleared its request.
Panna had between 16-24 tigers till 2006 and close to 40 tigers in 2002. However,a WII survey using 42 cameras found signs of a maximum of two tigers in December-January in Panna,with two of the pictures belonging to the same tiger. However,since then,the continuous camera trapping has not shown any signs of the animals,WII scientists say.
Calling this serious,tiger scientist Raghu Chundawat,who has worked extensively with WII and is an expert on Panna,says: This is a situation worse than Sariska because Panna had more than 40 tigers… This is a complete and total loss.
The WII survey also confirmed that Panna had no more tigresses,a charge Madhya Pradesh had denied till the findings. To deal with this,the state is in the process of acquiring two tigresses,one each from Bandhavgarh and Kanha. In fact,to hurry up the process,the state has even ditched the elaborate aerial route and a tigress is right now on its way from Bandhavgarh by road to the reserve. The second tigress is likely to be moved from Kanha soon. Originally,a helicopter was to do the translocation and a recce of Panna had been carried out for this purpose.
Dr H Pabla,Chief Wildlife Warden,Madhya Pradesh,says the request that a tiger be translocated as well is part of the same plan. There are male tigers in Panna, he says,but the population is scattered. When the females are translocated here,they might not find tigers to mate with. Thus we have a long-term plan of translocating a tiger too.
A senior official from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests said the question of agreeing to Madhya Pradeshs request for a tiger does not arise at the moment. No permission has been given so far to translocate a male tiger in addition to translocating the two females.
Experts are demanding an investigation. If there is indeed a male tiger or two male tigers in Panna,they should be radio-collared and monitored. If Madhya Pradesh claims
that it still has male tigers,then they shouldnt have to ask for another tiger translocation, says Chundawat.
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