|India Battles Challenge of Shrinking Tiger Habitat
VOICE OF AMERICA
January 16, 2015
DELHI—A shrinking habitat for tigers is one of the biggest challenges
facing conservationists in India, which has mounted the world’s biggest
program to protect the big cat. There is a growing problem
of balancing the interests of wildlife with those of villages situated
in or near tiger reserves.
More than a year ago, wildlife
authorities scrambled to a village located in the heart of Sariska
Tiger Reserve on hearing that a tigress was prowling in its vicinity.
that petrified villagers would target the animal, they spent many hours
persuading them not to disturb the tigress, which had apparently come
in search of a mate.
The Deputy Field
Director of Sariska Reserve, Manoj Parashar, says forest guards along
with villagers formed teams to keep a 24-hour vigil on the tigress.
says they told the villagers that if she attacks someone, they will
immediately intervene. Otherwise they urged the villagers to leave her
alone. He says they agreed.
The tigress spent a week near
the village before returning to the deep jungle - three days alone and
four days with a tiger who responded to her mating call.
officials were elated when months later, the same tigress gave birth to
two cubs. They are the newest additions to the 13 tigers in Sariska.
conservationists say neither the villagers nor wildlife benefit from
the proximity. Wild animals, whether deer, boar or elephants, trample
the villagers’ crops or attack their cattle. For tigers and other
animals, the presence of these villages means noise and movement in the
midst of the forest.
Conservationist Belinda Wright, who heads
the Wildlife Protection Society of India, says times have changed, even
for forest dwellers. “It is no longer a quiet little village that
has a sort of very simple existence and simple life. Nowadays it is
quite intrusive. People have aspirations which they did not have in the
past. It is now very complex and same villagers want motorbikes and so
on and it is a huge disturbance for wildlife,” she explained.