Stating that ‘Ustad’ alias Tiger T-24, who mauled to death a forest guard in May this year, was not a “man-eater”, wildlife experts have urged Rajasthan government to relocate the tiger to its habitat in Ranthambore National Park at Sawaimadhopur. Ustaad was shifted to Sajjangarh Zoological Park in Udaipur, after it allegedly killed 42-year-old forest guard Rampal Saini. “National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) team after thorough investigation and interview with forest officers reported that Ustad cannot be described as a man eater. And such incidents may be chance encounters due to human proximity to the tiger in its defined habitat,” said Rupesh Kant Vyas, a wildlife expert.
“The state government should consider NTCA report on T-24, which was living with a tigress and two cubs in RNP,” Vyas said while speaking at a seminar on “Conservation of Tiger” in Jaipur last evening. “Through a letter, the Additional DGF (Project Tiger) and Member Secretary (NTCA) Bishan Singh Bonal have also asked the state government’s additional chief secretary (forests) to rewild ‘Ustad’ to its suitable habitat,” Vyas said. The wildlife expert also alleged that 15 big cats were missing from the RNP after Tiger T-24 was shifted to Udaipur.
Speaking on the occasion, retired IFS Officer Sunayan Sharma said that after Tiger T-24 was shifted to Udaipur, Tigress T-39 and cub T-72 were reportedly missing from RNP. A senior wildlife expert and Cox and King official Madhav Rathore said due to shifting of Tiger T-24, the business in RNP has come down by 24 per cent in recent months. Forest Guard Saini was attacked and killed by Tiger T-24 while he, along with two others, was on a patrol in the National Park on May 8 this year.
Wildlife experts also said the majestic big cat emerged as the ambassador of India’s conservation efforts. “Tiger symbolises our overall conservation efforts. It is a vehicle and an ambassador of how we can take care of the conservation of our forests,” Sundarban Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas said at a discussion in Jaipur to mark the Global Tiger Day. In the fierce war between development and conservation if tigers or any other animal species is lost then no amount of money can bring it back, the tiger expert said. According to the latest census, the number of tigers in India has increased by 30 per cent since 2010 to 2,226 in 2014.
Corbett Tiger Reserve’s director Samir Sinha said, “A number of rivers pass through these tiger reserves. As a result they are the symbols of our food security. If the tiger reserves are lost, we will also lose our rivers and their catchment areas. We will then become poorer,” he said. To raise awareness on tiger conservation, a day-long programme was organised at the Indian Museum. Organised in collaboration with Society for Heritage & Ecological Researches (SHER), students made clay models of tiger while a team of folk dancers from Odisha presented their traditional ‘Bagh Nritya’ (Tiger Dance).
The museum has also put up an exhibition on tiger. Parbati Barua, honorary chief wildlife warden of Assam, said humans have the responsibility to ensure that wildlife can co-exist peacefully. Actor and wildlife photographer Sabyasachi Chakrabarty said he believes that all animals are also a part of the society we live in. “Saving the tiger is more important than voting. No political party asks us to kill tiger but saving the tiger is not a priority for anyone,” he said.
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