The carving out of land from the core area of Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) has ensured lesser chances of human-animal conflict and better eco-tourism activities.
Even the Tharu community faces no fear of being displaced from their territory after the environment and forests department revised the notified and buffer areas at VTR last week.
The core area was reduced by around 825 hectares and it has been added to the buffer zone. This was done in light of a recent Supreme Court order that prohibits any human interference in the core area. Tourism related activities are permitted in the buffer zone.
The core area in a tiger reserve is a zone where tigers usually rest, reside, feed and breed. Any form of human exploitation and biotic disturbance in the area is prohibited.
The buffer area is a fringe zone in the periphery of the core area, which is usually available for human settlement and eco-tourism activities. According to the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006, that came into force with effect from September 4, 2006, every state government is required to notify buffer and core zones in tiger projects located in respective states.
On July 31, 2012, the Bihar government demarcated the buffer and core zones at VTR in West Champaran. “The revision in the notified core and buffer areas has been done to address two issues — to abide by guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority to have minimum human interference in the core area and protect the traditional rights of Tharu tribes, who are settled around the reserve for the past many generations,” said Santosh Tiwari, the conservator-cum-director, VTR.
The apex court, in an order dated October 15, permitted tourism activities in the core area up to an upper limit of 20 per cent of the total core area.
“With the revision, it has been ensured that all eco-tourism activities would be done only in the buffer zone,” said an official of the department.
“If people have more space in buffer area, tendency to intrude in the protected area might decrease. The state government should put stringent measures to prohibit human interference in the core area,” said Jimmy Borah, the national co-ordinator for Tiger Programme of World Wildlife Fund, India.