Jan 8, 2015
PILIBHIT: UP minister for Khadi and village industries and MLA from Pilibhit Haji Riaz Ahmad has raised, in a letter to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, the question of the rapidly dwindling population of tigers in the Pilibhit Tiger Researve. The matter was also raised in November last year by SP MLA Hemraj Verma. Riaz Ahmad has said that the matter gains urgency as the government now proposes to start a rhino project within the tiger reserve, and the rhinos brought here too could face danger. In the last three years, the number of tigers in the area has shrunk drastically -Samajwadi MLA from Barkhera assembly constituency in Pilibhit Hem Raj Verma said that in 2010, the population of tigers in forest division of Pilibhit had stood at over 40. Many cubs had also been noticed by WWF authorities that year. In just two years after that, a survey showed that there were only about 30 tigers in the area. In 2013, the tiger population reduced to just 23. In a letter to the chief minister, Riaz Ahmad has sought an inquiry into the rapid fall in the tiger population in the Pilibhit reserve.
He has also questioned how the safety of rhinos could be assured, in such a situation, given the great demand for rhino horns, which make the animal especially vulnerable to poaching. Riaz Ahmad pointed out that the dwindling number of tigers had been referred to the principal secretary of forests in November last year, but the matter has not been probed. He said although the entry of men and women into the reserve is prohibited, hundreds of villagers enter deep within that area to fell trees. Foresters had long grown accustomed to such activity, he said, adding that illegal felling of trees was often done in connivance with forest staff, who make money from it. The rampant felling of trees has reduced vegetation in parts of the forest. The tigers are left with no cover while hunting already sparse prey, the minister pointed out, explaining why the big cats were straying into human habitations. Riaz Ahmad also warned that the proposal to develop Chuka, located in the core of the tiger reserve, as a tourist spot, could further endanger tigers. The entry of vehicles could disturb the animals, the minister warned. He has suggested that tourist spots be developed outside the area of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, adding that Chuka could serve only as a spot at which tourists might stop for site-seeing.
As posted in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com