Revival of the Tiger: A Joint Effort, A Cultural Renaissance

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Revival of the Tiger: A Joint Effort, A Cultural Renaissance Blog Image

Why in News?

  • India boasts a rich history of forest and wildlife conservation, with a significant milestone achieved at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR), Uttarakhand.
  • There have been comprehensive efforts and strategies implemented at CTR, which have not only witnessed an impressive increase in tiger population but has also become a global example in wildlife management.

An Overview of Successful Tiger Conservation Plan and Biodiversity at CTR

  • Formulation and Implementation of a Comprehensive Strategy
    • The success of the CTR can be traced back to the meticulous implementation of the Tiger Conservation Plan, a comprehensive strategy.
    • The strategy was aimed at ensuring the well-being of the tiger population and the broader biodiversity within the reserve.
    • CTR, spanning an expansive 1288.31 sq km across three districts of Uttarakhand, exemplifies the effectiveness of this plan in fostering a thriving ecosystem.
  • A Clear Division of Core and Buffer Zones
    • The foundation of the Tiger Conservation Plan lies in the demarcation of core and buffer zones within the reserve.
    • These zones, covering an extensive land area, play a pivotal role in providing a sanctuary for wildlife.
    • The core zones serve as undisturbed habitats crucial for breeding and sustenance, while buffer zones act as a transitional area between human settlements and the core, minimising potential conflicts.
  • Increase in Tiger Population
    • Recent statistics reveal a remarkable increase in the tiger population at CTR. Just four years ago, the reserve recorded 231 tigers, and according to the 2022 report, this number has surged to 260.
    • Such a significant rise underscores the success of the conservation plan, signalling not only the protection of tigers but also the overall health and balance of the forest ecosystem.
  • Maintaining Rich Biodiversity
    • CTR's success goes beyond just tiger numbers; it extends to the richly-forested, highly-biodiverse landscape within its boundaries.
    • The reserve is a haven for a variety of birds and wildlife, attracting not only tourists but also researchers, conservation biologists, and environmentalists.
    • The diverse range of flora and fauna contributes to the ecological balance, creating an environment where both predator and prey coexist harmoniously.
  • Promoting Ecotourism and Conservation Hand in Hand
    • The presence of a vibrant ecosystem has turned CTR into a hotspot for ecotourism, generating economic opportunities for local communities.
    • The influx of tourists, including bird-specialists and wildlife enthusiasts, not only fosters a greater appreciation for nature but also contributes to the local economy.
  • Effective Grassland and Water Management
    • With 27 different types of grasslands at CTR, a nuanced approach to grassland management is imperative.
    • Maintaining the delicate balance of grassland and water management is crucial for the breeding of prey species, ensuring a sustainable prey-base for tigers.
    • This involves developing and restoring palatable grasses for wildlife consumption while eradicating invasive weed species.
    • Water management practices, such as strategically placed solar-pump fed interlinked water-holes, ensure the availability of water during critical periods, supporting the diverse needs of the wildlife.
  • Forest Staff: Unsung Heroes of Conservation
    • Integral to CTR's success are the unsung heroes—the forest staff, the staff comprises of foot-soldiers, mahouts, and forest guards and their tireless efforts form the backbone of the reserve's protection.
    • Facing dangers from stalking tigers to aggressive elephants, these dedicated individuals are crucial for maintaining a delicate ecological balance.
    • Recent initiatives, such as timely wages, regular rations, and enhanced safety measures, underscore the importance placed on the well-being of the forest staff.
  • Focus on Wildlife Corridors and Habitat Protection
    • Wildlife corridors are crucial for gene pool exchange, especially for long-ranging species like tigers and elephants.
    • CTR meticulously follows the Tiger Conservation Plan's recommendations for strategic corridors.

Cultural and Economic Significance of Tiger in India

  • Beyond ecological considerations, the tiger holds immense cultural and historical importance in India.
  • The revival of tiger populations, especially at CTR, symbolises a cultural renaissance and the resurgence of conservation ethics.
  • The economic ties between local communities and the tiger, as evident in the thriving eco-tourism industry, further emphasise the connection between the wildlife and people at CTR.

The Issue of Human-Wildlife Conflict at CTR

  • Rising Incidents and Challenges
    • The surge in human-elephant and tiger-human conflicts arises from various factors, including habitat encroachment, limited animal movement corridors, and behavioural conditioning of predators.
    • Milch and domestic animals from villages often stray into forest areas, becoming easy prey for tigers.
    • As a result, it leads to predatory behaviour conditioned towards humans, resulting in unforeseen attacks, especially on villagers venturing deep into buffer forest areas for their daily needs.
  • The Complexity of ‘Wicked Problems’
    • Human-wildlife conflict is often described as a ‘wicked problem’ due to its complexity. Each conflict scenario is unique, requiring a nuanced and context-specific approach.
    • Recognising this, CTR emphasises that every attempt at a solution, no matter how small, holds significance.
    • There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and continuous adaptation and innovation are essential to address evolving conflict scenarios.

Strategies Undertaken to Minimise Human-Wildlife Conflict and Foster Co-Existence

  • Forest Department Initiatives
    • The forest department at CTR has undertaken proactive measures to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts.
    • One notable success is the complete obliteration of poaching activities, particularly along the highly sensitive southern boundary of the reserve.
    • Intensive patrolling by dedicated foot soldiers, coupled with digital surveillance through the electronic-eye project, has played a crucial role in minimising threats to wildlife.
  • Community Engagement Strategies
    • Community engagement forms a cornerstone of CTR's approach to human-wildlife conflict resolution.
    • The forest department actively involves local stakeholders in the conservation process and initiatives such as the Living with Tigers program engage villagers and school children in behavioural and response awareness.
    • This educational initiative aims to cultivate a deeper understanding of the patterns of wildlife behaviour and instil practices that enhance safety for both humans and animals.
  • Provision of Economic Incentives for Conservation
    • The forest department has initiated projects that provide economic incentives for conservation.
    • For instance, the beehive-fencing project strategically places beehives along the village-forest border areas.
    • The resulting Corbee Honey brand is managed by local Eco Development Committees (EDCs), creating an economic hook based on cooperation and coexistence with local stakeholders.

Conclusion

  • Corbett Tiger Reserve stands as a beacon of success in wildlife conservation, epitomising a holistic and integrated approach.
  • From meticulous habitat management to community engagement initiatives, CTR showcases the potential for sustainable coexistence between humans and wildlife.
  • As the reserve continues to be a crucial part of India's conservation narrative, its future success hinges on the collective efforts of the forest department, local communities, and conservation enthusiasts.

Q1) What was the role played by Jim Corbett in establishing Corbett Tiger Reserve?

Jim Corbett, also known as "Carpet Sahib" by locals, played a crucial role in raising awareness about the importance of conserving wildlife. He authored several books, including "Man-Eaters of Kumaon," detailing his experiences in dealing with man-eating tigers and leopards. His efforts helped garner support for the establishment of the park.

Q2) When was the Corbett Tiger Reserve established?

Corbett Tiger Reserve, initially known as Hailey National Park, was established in 1936 to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. It was named after Jim Corbett in 1957 to honour his contributions to wildlife conservation and his role in establishing the park.


Source: The Indian Express