LUCKNOW: In a move that comes as a shot in the arm for wildlife and tiger conservation, the Uttar Pradesh government has notified the Pilibhit Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve with effect from June 9, 2014. The upgrade in the status is expected to strengthen the ongoing tiger conservation efforts in the state.
The third tiger reserve in UP after Dudhwa, which was notified in 1987, and Amangarh Tiger Reserve in Bijnor, notified in 2012, the consolidated forest ranges of Mala, Mahof, Barahi, Deoria and Haripur will serve as the Pilibhit tiger reserve.
Government officials said the move to notify the forest ranges in Pilibhit as tiger reserve shows the state's commitment to strengthen conservation efforts despite UP's large population. Of the total 73,024.98 hectare area that has been identified as reserve area, the core area will comprise 6,279.8 hectares, while the buffer zone — the Khutar range in Shahjahanpur — will span 12,745.2 hectares.
Conservationists see the inclusion of the Pilibhit tiger reserve under Project Tiger as a positive attempt to attract more financial support from the central government to strengthen the numbers of anti-poaching watchers and to set up anti-poaching camps in the state.
Speaking to TOI, special secretary to the department of environment and forests, Pratibha Singh, said, "The Pilibhit Wildlife Sanctuary was accorded sanctuary status in February. Of the total tiger population in the country, about 118 are in UP, while approximately 30 big cats are in Pilibhit area. This notification will allow us to strengthen our efforts towards tiger conservation and promotion of eco-tourism in the state".
The process for giving tiger reserve status to the cluster of forests in Pilibhit had started in 2008, with the National Tiger Conservation Authority approving the proposal.
The terai belt, where the Pilibhit tiger reserve is located, is the last of the Sal forest reserves in the world and regarded as very fragile, ecologically. Apart from the Bengal tiger, the Pilibhit forest area is also home to the Indian leopard, the swamp deer and the Bengal florican, among other rare species.
Following the notification, the government will now focus its efforts on habitat management and ensuring that enough food is available for forest animals so that they do not leave the forest areas and instances of man-animal conflict are reduced. To Pilibhit's advantage, there is no human settlement inside the Pilibhit forest and therefore, no relocation of villagers would be required.
Pilibhit Tiger Reserve — Vital stats
Spread across: 73024.98 hectares of which is 6279.80 hectares is core forest area.
Notified as Tiger Reserve on June 9, 2014.
Home to the Bengal Tiger, the Indian leopard, swamp deer and the Bengal florican and hog deer, among other rare species.
Eco-tourism possibilities: The Chuka Interpretation Zones on the banks of Sharda in Pilibhit. The Sharda Sagar dam forms the Sharda Sagar reservoir. The ecologically endangered Sal forests known for their rich biodiversity, home to various species of birds and animals.
Philibhit Tiger reserve is the third in UP to be notified as reserve forest area.
The other two reserve forest areas are Dudhwa Tiger reserve and Amangarh Tiger Reserve in Bijnor.
First tiger reserve in UP, Dudhwa (vital stats- Total area of 2201.7748 hectares of which core area is 1093.79 hectares). Declared in 1987.
Second tiger reserve was Amangarh Tiger Reserve which was declared in 2012. It spans 80.6 square km and acts as a buffer zone to Corbett Tiger Reserve.