Via – Sudeep Sunderban Travels
JAIPUR: Twelve years back, it was a matter of pride when yet another national park was added to the conservation kitty of Rajasthan. After passing through three successive governments, the park got the nod from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2013 and the state bagged its third tiger reserve in the form of the Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve. But now perhaps it is the one of its kind without a tiger in it.
Known to be a natural habitat for tigers, the area comprising the Mukundra Hills National Park has been the hunting ground for kings. Carved out of Bhainsrogarh, Darrah, Rawatbhata and the ravines of Chambal, the park once upon a time served as the hunting ground for the nobles of Kota till the Wildlife Conservation Act came into being.
It was only in 2002 that the then Congress government issued a preliminary notification and declared the area as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park. But the code of conduct for the 2003 assembly elections came into effect and the final notification could not be issued. After the polls, BJP came to power and the park was christened Mukundara Hills National Park.
Interestingly, at the same time the park was also becoming a natural corridor for tigers migrating out of Ranthambore. Tigers from Ranthambore began migrating to Mukundra hills via Qualji, Ramgarh Vishdhari and Jawahar Sagar.
If first it was the tigress ‘Broken tail’ that ventured out of Ranthambore and was crushed by a train on the Mumbai-Delhi tracks in 2002, years later it was the Sultanpur tigress that has made a home there for the past six years.
The tiger reserve is spread over an area of 759 sq km between four districts of Kota, Bundi, Chittorgarh and Jhalawar near the Ranthambhore tiger reserve. Nearly 417 sq km area has been earmarked here as the core tiger habitat, while 342.82 sq km has been notified as the buffer zone.
“But that has been all. Since then there has been no effort by the government in all these 12 years to groom the area into a proper forest with a prey base or even to populate it with tigers. The department has in fact also appointed 10 officers for the reserve but after that nothing has happened. There has been no effort to increase the population of four-horned antelopes, chinkaras, Sambhar, Cheetal and wild boars which are all so essential to sustain a tiger population,” say conservationists.
“In fact having staged the first tiger relocation in the world in Sariska, the forest department should have taken steps to relocate excess tigers from Ranthambore which is now brimming with cubs. These cubs will later migrate away from there and relocation would prevent them from straying into Madhya Pradesh,” he added. “We had submitted a plan to the government long time back on how the area can be populated with tigers. The area was to be demarcated as the Rajiv Gandhi bio-sphere. But the government has been sitting on the plan. It is high time now that it gets its act together and works towards getting tigers at the Mukundra reserve,” said conservationist Rajpal Singh.
(Source: TOI, Via: SST)