Ranthambore struggles to find space for tigers


Jaipur: The task of relocating villages from the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve (RTR) didn't seem a Herculean task when it began in 1976. But as tigers and human population proliferated, it seems a never ending one. In 1976, 12 villages were relocated from the area and it was notified as a national park.

But, as of today, work on relocating nine villages is going on, with 16 more are in the pipeline, to create an inviolate space for tigers and prevent man-animal conflict. The task of voluntary relocation has become more challenging over the years. 

While the remarkable feat of relocating Indala, which cleared an entire plateau, has been achieved, the work at crucial Kathuli, Bhid and Padra villages has not been easy. For the first time, results are visible with a lot of tiger movement in Kaila Devi. To protect and improve the ecosystem for tigers in RTR, the Rajasthan forest department aims to create 140 sq km of inviolate space in Kaila Devi this financial year.

Recently, Rs 12 crore was sanctioned to relocate villages to create a contiguous corridor for migrating tigers. "In the first phase, we are focusing on villages in the Ranthambhore-Kaila Devi corridor also known as the Banas river corridor. Relocation of these villages is important for securing and developing the corridor that connects Ranthambhore National Park and Kaila Devi Sanctuary. If we don't do this, the corridor is under threat of being lost," said Y K Sahu, field director, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.

Talda Khet, Kala Khora, Gadhi, Maharo and Kiradki, comprising of 260 families, are the five villages identified by priority for relocation to secure the Ranthambhore-Kaila Devi corridor. After relocation, approximately 75 sq km of the forest area would become free from disturbance. With some habitat and prey development interventions, it will become a suitable area for tiger and associate species to reside. Three of these villages are already under the process of relocation. Two new villages areas will be taken up next year, said Sahu.

The process of shifting families from three villages, namely Dangra, Bhimpura and Unchi Guwadi in Kaila Devi plateau, had also begun. Among the 328 families identified here, a major part (255) has already been relocated and only 73 families remain.

Two more villages — Beri Vishwanathpura (60 families) and Sankra (55 families) — have also been identified for relocation. "As for now, Rs 12 crore has been sanctioned for relocating villages situated in the Banas corridor for the year 2016. We have completed the socio-economic survey in Gadi village with 40 families. Besides, surveys of Kala khore village, with approximately 35 families, and Talda Khet Corridor, with about 12 families, have been ordered by the collector. They have to be relocated on priority basis this financial year itself," Sahu said.