People’s Participation Gives Boost To Tiger Conservation In Panna Tiger Reserve
- Shailja Purohit
- Published on 17 Nov 2021, 1:17 pm IST
- 5 minutes read
- The Panna Tiger Reserve is enjoying its golden era, with 50 plus tigers and increased tourist influx.
- Established in 1981, the Reserve was declared the 22nd Tiger Reserve of India in 1994.
- The Reserve is now inviting tourists to mail their beautiful clicks to them so that they can post them on social media platforms.
Madhya Pradesh is not only famous for its minerals, diamonds and forest cover, but is also known as the Tiger State of India as 526 tigers of the country live here. Out of the state’s six tiger reserves, the Panna Tiger Reserve is basking in its Golden Period. In a span of over 4 decades, the reserve has been able to reestablish its glory after getting over the damage of its worst period,2008-2009,when the total tiger count had drastically come down due to poaching activities.
Recently the tiger reserve started a social media drive to introduce the flora and fauna in its beautiful landscape to the rest of the world. The idea is to connect people to the beauty of the reserve. In an exclusive conversation with Deputy Director of Panna Tiger Reserve, Mr. Vejayanantham TR (IFS), Indian Masterminds tried to know more from him about this beautiful tiger habitat and the recent initiatives of the forest department for its preservation and promotion.
SOCIAL MEDIA INITIATIVE
Mr. Vejayanantham explained the forest department’s recent social media initiative to Indian Masterminds. “Parks are closed for three months during the monsoon season. So,to keep in touch with our tourists, we rolled out this plan. We created an email id[email protected]where anyone with beautiful clicks of Panna can mail them to us to be a part of our social media campaigns. Our team makes beautiful videos, short films, gives due credit, and post them on the official handles of Panna Tiger Reserve, be it YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. This gives visitors a feel of attachment to the tiger reserve. A beautiful video recently posted by Panna Tiger Reserve’s twitter handle can be seen here; https://twitter.com/PannaTigerResrv/status/1460591863971258377?s=20
In 1981,the Panna National Park was established, and in 1994, it was declared the 22nd Tiger Reserve of India and the 5th of Madhya Pradesh under Government of India’s Project Tiger. The Reserve is situated in the Vindhya ranges and is spread over Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the north of the state, having around 542 square km of area.
Panna is rich in biodiversity where tigers roam around freely with leopards, hyaenas, wolves, elephants, sambars, chinkara and nilgai. It has more than 200 species of birds including some migratory birds like the White Necked Stork, King Vulture, Blossom Headed Parakeet, Paradise Flycatcher, etc. Reptiles are also found here.
The 55km-long Ken River not only adorns this forest with gorges and waterfalls but also provides habitat to some endangered species like the Fishing Cat, gharials, maggers, reptiles, etc. The reserve is also famous for the world’s oldest elephant, Vatsala, which is more than 100 years old. Around 40 plus types of grassland, including palatable and non-palatable, for wild herbivores are also found here.
TIGER REHABILITATION MISSION
Mr.Vejayanantham said that through social media, they are trying to give the message to the public that tiger reserves are not only for tigers. “Tigers are just our mascot. By protecting tigers, we are protecting the genetic tool of the ecosystem and biodiversity present here.”
He further informed that the Reserve has 50 plus adults and sub-adults and 20 plus cubs. Back in 2009, after the evacuation of tigers, the reserve went from having 36 plus tigers to zero. With the initiation of the tiger relocation program, two tigresses were relocated from Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Park, T1 & T2,and one tiger from Pench Tiger Reserve.”After efforts like radio collaring, monitoring, tracking their moments and creating a proper ecosystem for their habitation, we got around 7 to 8 Cubs from T1 and T2 in just 1 to 2 years. Since then, various efforts are being done for their conservation. The result is, today our tiger reserve is known for having the highest number of these big cats in the state and we are attracting lots of tourists not only in the festive seasons but on weekends, too. Tigresses P-151 and P-141 with their cubs can be seen in the Hinauta and Mandla buffer zones.”
Recently, the reserve earned one more feather in its cap by receiving a globally accepted CA/TS tag for practicing best conservation tools and standards to manage tigers and encourage benchmark progress.
“It’s all because of the support of locals. The reserve is generating employment opportunities not only by starting guide training programs for local youth but also entering into tie-ups with locals to procure materials for souvenir shops for our tourists,” the officer said, adding that by installing a drone squad, they are keeping close eyes on any illegal encroachment, fishing activities or mining.
CONCEPT OF COHABITATION
As tigers cannot be stopped from going into territorial and buffer zones, so the concept of cohabitation has been adopted. Director of Panna Tiger Reserve Mr. Uttam Kumar Sharma and his team planned it accordingly and went to the nearby villages. The officer said: “We talked with locals to provide them separate land for cattle grazing and also started a 24/7 Tiger Squad Number to be called in emergency situations. For incidents of cattle killing, compensation is provided to them in just 7 to 15 days.”
Because of the forest department’s efforts in Panna Tiger Reserve to include locals in tiger conservation, in the process generating employment for them, and because of the safety protocols that are being followed, people are no longer scared to see tigers in their area. Instead, they take pride in the tigers and in the Panna Tiger Reserve.
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