The Telegraph
Saturday , May 18 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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All is not lost at tiger reserve

Ranchi, May 17: All is not lost yet in the Palamau Tiger Reserve — the state’s lone abode for big cats.

This fact seems to have cheered up a high-level team of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), led by member secretary Rajesh Gopal, which visited the reserve today.

After spending over seven hours in the core areas of the reserve, the team was satisfied that things could still be turned around, provided the state paid much-needed attention to the revival of the sanctuary.

“The Palamau Tiger Reserve is good, promising and improving, as we saw it. There is a need to involve more local people for better conservation of big cats, and the reserve as a whole,” an NTCA member told The Telegraph.

D.S. Shrivastava, a member of NTCA’s steering committee on tiger conservation, said, “The most important outcome of the visit is a change in the perception that everything was over. It has boosted PTR’s image. Yes, other issues hindering a complete revamp of the tiger reserve need to be sorted out.”

The team’s observations came as a huge relief to officials at PTR, which was deemed to have been “ruined” for all practical purposes.

Major concerns, like paucity of funds and human resources, which have been plaguing the sanctuary for long, remained in focus during today’s inspection.

The team also observed that the state did little to set up a tiger conservation authority and a steering committee for Project Tiger — both statutory requirements that need to be fulfilled to secure funds from the Centre for better management of the reserve.

Notably, there are only around 30 forest guards at present against a sanctioned strength of 165. Also, trekkers, who have been employed as daily wage labourers, work in the capacity of drivers, peons and man check posts, too, owing to lack of manpower.

Gopal, who doubles up as additional director-general of Project Tiger — the national initiative to save big cats — is understood to have promised all help for a complete revival of the reserve.

Among those who were part of today’s team were S.P. Yadav, deputy inspector-general of NTCA, and H.S. Negi, inspector-general of NTCA — both from the Union ministry of environment and forests.

From the state forest department, PTR field director S.E.H. Kazmi, DFO (core area) Premjit Anand, DFO (buffer area) A.K. Mishra and Shrivastava were also present during the inspection between 8am to 3.30 pm.

The team will meet senior government officials, including the chief secretary and senior forest department officials, in Ranchi tomorrow.