Are tigers safe in Kaziranga?

Kaziranga World Heritage site may be one of the successful rhino conservation stories and has the highest density of tigers in the country today but there seems to be enough reason to raise an alarm with poachers residing just outside the Park and unabated mining activity blocking animal corridors.

Recently Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh spoke about tiger conservation."Kaziranga was never associated with tigers till December 2007 when it was declared it as a Project Tiger Area. The numbers that seem to come from camera trap seems to suggest tiger population of anywhere between 75-100 in a total area of about 860 sq kms which is probably the highest density per sq kms in the country," said Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh.

Ramesh added: "Kaziranga now claims to have the highest density of tigers in the country which is good as well bad news. It makes the Park very vulnerable with an already existing poaching network."Fourteen rhinos have been killed in this Park in the last one year.

"It's too simplistic to say that they will go for one particular animal and not touch tigers. Last year we lost 10 tigers and this year we have lost 2," said Dr Rajesh Gopal Member Secretary, NTCA.

Animals particularly the rhino often stray from the Kaziranga National Park cross these channels of the Brahmaputra and come on the embankment but what's worrying is the significant number of poachers and country made weapons that are present in these villages."In many areas there is a determined effort to finish off the tiger population. It is not coincidental, it's not an accident, there is a deliberate conspiracy, there is a conjoining of real estate mafia, mining mafia," said Jairam.

Such is the state of affairs, at the Panbari reserve forest adjoining the Kaziranga and an important animal corridor, there are 123 stone quarries on this fringe and some of them have been given license by the Kaziranga Park authorities.Kaziranga has a unique eco system and the tiger may be much safer here but with the park situated right on the international smuggling route, the pressure on wildlife will always be there.


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