Reserved for tigers

Reserved for tigers The steering committee of Project Tiger is scheduled to meet this month to decide on creating 2 more tiger reserves: in Dampha in Mizoram and Panna in Madhya Pradesh. "Tigers outside the Project Tiger reserves are not getting sufficient protection," says S P Singh, deputy director of Project Tiger, "so we are trying to increase our coverage."

The proposed Project Tiger reserve in Mizoram will cover approximately 600 sq km in Dampha. "This is virgin land and there is no problem of displacement here because people living in the area were already relocated when the Dampha sanctuary was created," says Singh.

The proposed 500 sq km reserve in Panna, however, may run into trouble as part of its buffer zone is used for mining and grazing activities by the surrounding villages. Says Ashish Kothari of the Delhi-based NGO, Kalpavriksh, "Any move to put a stop to their activities and traditional rights over the area could result in a confrontation between local villagers and the authorities." Singh, however, feels, "These problems will be ironed out in the steering committee meeting. The protection of tigers will be accompanied by development schemes for the people, which means more funds and jobs."

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