Activists say notification of reserve may intensify conflict between forest department and locals
Navegaon-Bandh Nagzira Tiger Reserve has landed in a controversy within days of its notification as a sanctuary because of poor management. The Maharashtra government had notified the wildlife habitat as a tiger reserve on December 12 after the National Tiger Conservation Authority cleared the proposal on November 21.
According to some sources, the forest department has proposed that two tigresses should be brought to the sanctuary to boost the sagging number of tigers.
The 656.36 sq km reserve comprises of five different protected areas namely Navegaon-Bandh National Park, Navegaon, Nagzira, New Nagzira and Koka sanctuaries.
In the past three years, the number of tigers in the sanctuary became skewed with six males and two females. Out of these, three male tigers have moved to other areas in search of territories and females, and remaining three males are the offspring of the only two tigresses in the reserve.
Kalyan Kumar, an official from Gondia forest division, confirmed that there was a proposal to introduce two tigresses in the park. But he refused to elaborate on it.
Sources, who did not want to be named, revealed that the proposal which is currently being examined by an expert committee is likely to be rejected because in spite a few tigers were moved into the sanctuary some time before as well, the department was unable to give a boost to the tiger population.
Manish Rajankar, a forest rights activist from the non-profit Nisarga Sewa Mandal in Bhandara district of the state, has said that the notification will further intensify the conflict between the forest department and the locals over individual and community rights, provided under the Forest Rights Act. These rights have not been settled in any of the protected areas involved. “During the time of monsoon this year, people had been arrested for collecting small quantities of edible forest produce like mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Such moves will severely impact people’s livelihoods and economies,” the activist said.”
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