|In struggle for survival, two tigers make neglected Chaprala sanctuary their home
THE INDIAN EXPRESS
20 April 2010
a state that has the least priority for it, wildlife is finding its own
natural ways of surviving and thriving. Reflecting the grave irony is
the latest news from the embattled Chaprala sanctuary in Gadchiroli
that had recorded the last tiger sighting in 2003 — at least two tigers
have come to stay in what surely is one of the most neglected wildlife
areas of the state.
Besotted by sustained campaign by local
politicians for denotifying the sanctuary to support the existence of
an illegally-built temple on encroached land inside the sanctuary,
Chaprala virtually has nobody to fall back on. As a result, unwarranted
human interference in the form of temple devotees has turned the
sanctuary into a virtual nightmare for wildlife. In the 1990s, the
137-sq km sanctuary had about seven tigers, last of which was seen in
2003. It has no leopard, but still has a good population of spotted
deer, sambhar and chousinga (four-horned antelope), considered a rare
“The movement of two tigers is being noticed since
January this year. We don't yet know if they are males or females, but
they are fairly grown up,” says Divisional Forest Officer in-charge of
Chaprala R G Govekar.
Govekar believes the tigers must have come
through a broken corridor of about 7 km that connects Chaprala with
Kothari range in Chandrapur, which eventually connects with the
Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) through another corridor. “But the
fact that the tigers had come to Chaprala all the way from there after
so many years shows the desperation for their territories. How are they
to know that the place they have come to is perhaps the most vulnerable
one in the region,” asks Nitin Desai, central India director of
Wildlife Protection Society of India.
“There is continuous
movement of visitors in the sanctuary. We are not allowed to even
charge a fee for entering the sanctuary,” Govekar says.
no vehicle for the forest staff here. “We have a post of Assistant
Conservator of Forest and a Range Forest Officer vacant. We need about
20 guards and five-six foresters but we currently have only eight and
two respectively,” Govekar says.