Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
State to NTCA: Upgrade Ramgarh sanctuary into 4th tiger reserve
JAIPUR: The Rajasthan government has approached the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to develop Ramgarh Vishdhari sanctuary in Bundi as the fourth tiger reserve, a senior forest department official said.
In its budget last year, the state government had first announced the plan to develop the sanctuary as a tiger reserve to provide additional habitat to Ranthambore tigers, improve ecosystem and strengthen tourism.
Rajasthan has three tiger reserves with over 90 big cats at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) in Sawai Madhopur, Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) in Alwar, and Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) in Kota.
The Ramgarh Vishdhari sanctuary is spread across 1,071 sq km, of which 302 sq km will be made critical tiger habitat of the tiger reserve and the rest, into a buffer zone.
Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden ML Meena said the state government has sent the proposal to turn the sanctuary into a tiger reserve to NTCA which may send a committee to review the sanctuary.
He said the population of big cats at the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is increasing and they need more space. This space crunch would get resolved by upgrading the sanctuary which was earlier a natural habitat of tigers. Meena said the tigers from Ranthambore could even be translocated to the sanctuary after approval from NTCA.
Meena said the forest department is also developing another end of RTR, the Keoladeo sanctuary, where the tigers have been spotted. The development of the Ramgarh Vishdhari area allows them to connect the entire belt from Ranthambore to Ramgarh in Bundi and Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve in Kota.
“To strengthen the prey base, the state had already approved shifting of chital (spotted deer) from Ghana Bird Sanctuary (Karauli) to MHTR, Keoladeo National Park, and Ramgarh Vishdhari,” he said.
An official of the forest department familiar with the development said the sanctuary has been known as a ‘breeding place of tigers’.
He said the government has two options. The department can also look at the possibility of merging Ramgarh Vishdhari sanctuary into RTR as has been done with Kaila Devi sanctuary. But this could lead to a resource crunch since the tiger reserve may be told to continue its activities with the ₹10 crore allocated for each reserve by the central and state government.