With the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat along with other government officials, including the environment minister of the government, formally releasing the logo of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, it has become the second tiger reserve in the state after Corbett Tiger Reserve, which incidentally is home to some 340 felines and happens to be one the foremost wildlife destinations in the country. Rajaji’s entry into the exclusive club also takes the total number of tiger reserves in the country closer to the half-century mark, which now stands at 48.
It is important to note here that before it became a tiger reserve, Rajaji was a national park which was created by merging five forest ranges stretching across the districts of Pauri Garhwal, Dehra Dun and Haridwar. Also, while the Rajaji National Park covered an area of 820 sq km, the tiger reserve after the addition of three more ranges, viz. Shyampur of Haridwar forest division and Kotdwar and Laldhang ranges of Lansdowne forest division, would now spread over an area of around 1150 sq km.
When it was a national park, Rajaji Tiger Reserve was frequently in the limelight for the large number of wild elephants that graced the park with their impressive presence. But all that is going to change now as the elephants have to contend with the wily tiger, which is expected to be the biggest attraction of the reserve. Officials say that currently 11 tigers live in the reserve area, but there are evidences captured in camera traps which show that as many as 45 felines make trips to the reserve from the adjoining forests; it is this very information which prompted the officials to convert the park into a tiger reserve.
Since there is a large pray base that exists in the reserve, the tiger population is expected to increase in the coming days. However, for that to happen some of the important steps that the forest authorities need to immediately take include creation of forest corridors so that the eastern and the western parts are connected, which will allow the unhindered movement of the tiger across the reserve.
Also, there are some allegations that some families that have been occupying the reserve area for years have been colluding with poachers and passing on information regarding the movement of animals inside the park. A few months back there was also a report that said that the families were responsible for the death of big cats, as they feared the cats would attack their cattle.
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