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Marching orders for humans in tiger territory
- Three core villages in Palamau reserve to be relocated in phases, talks on

Ranchi, Oct. 9: Pugmarks are rare, if at all, but signs of human habitation — from livestock to landmines — are everywhere.

That could change soon as the over 1,000sq km Palamau Tiger Reserve is planning to get its act together by relocating in phases three villages in its core area.

“Three tribal villages — Ramandag, Latoo and Kujrum — lie within our core area. According to the National Tiger Conservatory Authority of India (NTCA) mandate, there should be no human habitation in the core regions of the reserve,” said Palamau Tiger Reserve director Paritosh Upadhyay.

The reserve, 180km from the state capital, once the pride of the region for its thriving big cat population, has long been reduced to a cluster of villagers, a rebel hideout and grazing grounds for cattle.

Though relocation is a prickly topic, reserve authorities left with no other recourse have already started taking steps towards it. “We will not identify land for them but try and facilitate their rehabilitation in the buffer zones. We have already initiated talks with villagers, soliciting their co-operation,” said Upadhyay, adding that a report would be sent to departments concerned by the end of the financial year.

Of the 1026sq km area of the reserve, 414sq km is earmarked as core area. According to officials, human population has grown manifold. Around 94 households with 700 people live on the core region, while the buffer zone has 120 villages. The 5km radius alone has 113 villages.

According to NTCA provisions, every household will be granted a lump sum of Rs 10 lakh for relocation.

“The total human population has been projected at over 1,16,549, of which 39,000 live within the reserve,” said Upadhyay, adding that cattle compounded problems.

There are 70,000 cattle heads in villages in and around the reserve, with 1,200 cattle grazing every day in the core area that nibble away the green cover, reducing food for the reserve’s wild herbivores. There is also a danger of disease transfer from cattle to wild animals.

“Although we try and ensure vaccination for all animals, including cattle, their numbers are so high that it is tough to keep tabs on all heads,” he said.

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