Jan 17, 2014
Decks have been cleared for a tiger reserve in Pilibhit, the third in UP after Dudhwa and Amangarh. The 72,000 hectare reserve will have more than 80% area marked as the core area where tourists will not be allowed.Five ranges of Pilibhit — Barahi, Mala, Deoria, Mahof and Haripur — which are scattered patche of forest will be developed into a consolidated area under Pilibhit tiger reserve. The forest department has given a final shape to the plan. While 60,000 hectare will be the core of the reserve, rest will be form the buffer. “The proposal will be placed in the cabinet soon,” said sources in the forest department. Pilibhit reserve got in-principle approval from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in September 2008. Though the state government had long identified the core of the new reserve, identification of buffer kept it waiting. But now things would be expedited. “We don’t have to relocate villagers,” said a forest department official. Pilibhit range, as per 2011 tiger count, has 35 to 40 tigers. High human interference coupled with poaching threat, however, puts the big cats in danger. In May 2012, two tigers were poisoned in Pilibhit within 24 hours. In February 2009, a young tigress was shot by forest department in Faizabad. The big cat had strayed out of Pilibhit forests and had turned a man-eater.
“Keeping more than 80% area as core is aimed at saving tigers,” said sources. Larger core area would keep a check on human movement across it. Besides, it will facilitate eco-restoration of Pilibhit through afforestation and conservation of existing forest resources.
The new reserve will not only boost value of the landscape around Pilibhit but also function as a wildlife corridor between Dudhwa and Corbett. Pilibhit reserve was planned to reduce high biotic pressure on Dudhwa.Massive deforestation in Lakhimpur-Katarniaghat terai belt, the only existing forest tract along Indo-Nepal border, has reduced forest cover in the area. This has increased biotic pressure on Dudhwa. Out of 14,424 sq km of forest cover in UP, 3,175 sq km is a potential tiger habitat. Dudhwa tigers are distributed in one major and three smaller populations. Major population comprises Dudhwa reserve which includes Dudhwa National Park, Kishenpur and Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuaries and forests of Pilibhit, north and south Kheri. The smaller tiger populations are present in Bijnor forests in west and Suhelwa and Sohagibarwa wildlife sanctuaries in east. Amangarh in Bijnor has already been declared a tiger reserve in October 2012. Pilibhit reserve was initially planned to include Pilibhit, Kishenpur sanctuary and Khutar range of Shahjahanpur, while Dudhwa reserve was to include Dudhwa, Katarniaghat and Kakraha range of Bahraich division. Pilibhit, Khutar and Kakraha are reserved forest areas which can be converted into protected areas for reserves.
As posted in Toi.