Following the death of two tigers within the Paoni range of Umred-Paoni-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UPKWS) in Nagpur district, the greens have again demanded declaring the zone as protected area a tiger reserve.
MS Reddy, the field director in the year 2015 had put forth a proposal to declare the 189sqkm of area as a reserve. Reddy has pointed out the ecological importance of the area and how it is potentially a big tiger source population. However, the proposal was rejected. According to one of the reasons that was understood, it was the senior officials who did not want the control of NTCA over them as it would have been bound by tourism restrictions in only 20% area.
“Umred-Karhandla should be notified as tiger reserve not because it has tigers but because of its strategic location. It lies on the tip connecting Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) and Ghodazari sanctuary on one side and Navegaon-Nagzira, Kanha and Pench on the other,” said Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientist Dr Bilal Habib.
“It has been proved scientifically that tigers disperse regularly from here and also have made Umred-Karhandla their home. Status of tiger reserve will certainly help tigers in the long run,” said Bilal.
In August 2015, a five-member committee was set up which was headed by Debabrata Swain, the then inspector general of forest (IGF) with regional office of NTCA, Nagpur. In his report to PCCF (wildlife), Swain was in agreement in declaring Umred-Karhandla as a critical tiger habitat (CTH).
Reddy’s proposal for Umred-Karhandla tiger reserve had included an extended buffer of crucial areas in Brahmapuri and Bhandara touching buffer zones of NNTR and TATR strengthening corridors by extending the advantages to the communities.
Roheet Karu of NGO Wildlife Conservation & Development Centre’s (WCDC) who was one of the main men behind the Umred-Karhandla’s formation was against any such steps. “Unless you consider including Gosikhurd dam backwater areas dividing park’s two parts — Paoni and Gothangaon — a reserve is impossible on technical grounds,” he said.
“There are fishing rights given to people. After reserve, these rights will go flaring up conflict among communities. In Pench, we are already grappling with illegal fishing. There are still 15 disputed villages that are not rehabilitated,” Karu said.
Karu added that the developments such as road, mines, water bodies, railway network are threatening to the people who live in the surrounding villages. “Under such circumstances, it is difficult government will accept such a proposal,” he feared.
Jaydeep Das, the Nagpur honorary wildlife warden has expressed the need to notify the area as a reserve and renew the previous proposal. “Even when it is not a reserve, notoriety of locals is obvious from poisoning of two tigers. So, better declare it a reserve and strengthen its legal status. More than restrictions people will benefit by various schemes and tourism. If we don’t act today, tomorrow areas outside PAs will go for encroachments, projects, mines and roads,” he cautioned.
As per, now-retired APCCF (wildlife) SS Mishra, the reserve’s location is ideal and should be utilised in using it for tigers’ reserve as the big cats need space. However, immense care needs to be taken about things such as poisoning and electrocution with the help of other agencies.
Information source: timesofindia
Title image source: thewesternroutes