The Project Tiger lobby came together in a show of strength
in the Capital at a meeting organised by the Ranthambore Foundation on February 17-18. Revealing their entrenched position, the conservationists iterated the necessity for greater policing of tiger habitats by plugging loopholes in government policies and enforcement measures.
The common theme among representatives of about a dozen NGOs working in Project Tiger areas was that "the biggest challenge is to protect the tiger and its habitat from local people who are resentful of conservation attempts". This position, enunciated by K K Singh, a volunteer working in Bandhavgarh national park, was buttressed by the conservationists' demand that state and Central authorities must ensure that there is diminishing human use of protected areas.
To push the point across, a network of likeminded NGOs and individuals called Tiger Link has been formed. Says Valmik Thapar of the Ranthambore Foundation, "Tiger Link will act as an informal pressure group that will intervene with the government at the state and Central levels to ensure that policies are effectively implemented."
With their attention focused on the tiger, members at the meet merely said, "To minimise the loss to the people who have deprived of their traditional forest livelihood, we must work with the government to ensure that they are given alternate occupations and involved in decisionmaking."
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