AFTER A LONG WAIT, RAJAJI NATIONAL PARK IS AT LAST ISSUED THE FINAL NOTICE TO ATTAIN ITS NATIONAL STATURE
The wildlife enthusiasts have a reason to cheer. The state Government after a long wait of about 30 years, has at last issued the final notification for the Rajaji National Park which consists of 9 ranges and is spread over 820.40 sq.km. of Haridwar, Pauriand Dehradun districts of Uttarakhand. The initial notification for the setting up of the Park under the Project Elephant was issued in 1983. However the final notification could not be issued since various hurdles had to be cleared. It may be recalled here that the Park, which marks the northern limits of the Asiatic elephant, is one of the safest heavens for jumbos in the country. At present, there are about 415 pachyderms in the Park and the male, female ratio is excellent.
A few month ago, the Tiger Conservation Authority of India had agreed to grant to the Park the status of a Tiger Reserve, making it the second tiger reserve of the state. The first being the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, which was the first Tiger reserve of country. Wildlife Protection Society of India, Haridwar’s head Mr. Rajendra Agarwal, says, “It is indeed a matter of great delight for the wildlife conservationists of Uttarakhand. The Rajaji Park, besides being an Elephant Reserve , now will also be a Tiger Reserve , now will also be a Tiger Project and, thus it becomes the first National Park in the state to run the two most prestigious wildlife conservation projects- The Project Elephant and The Project Tiger.“
The granting of the status of Project Tiger in the Park required firstly, that the final notification for the National Park status be issued. Now with the issuing of the Final notification, decks have been cleared for the launch of Project Tiger in the Park. After the exact mapping of the Rajaji Park boundaries, 14 revenue villages on the periphery of the Gohari Range of the park have been excluded from the park boundary. As per directions of the Tiger Conservative Authority of India, the Rajaji National Park core area of the Rajaji Tiger Project, while about 300 sq.km. of Shyampur range of the Haridwar forest division and parts of Kotdwar and Laldhang forest division, which function as a buffer zone, will also be included in the Tiger Project, augmented area to 1150 sq.km.
“After amalgamating the new area as buffer zone in the existing boundaries of the Rajaji Park the notification of the Project Tiger will be issued by the state government within a month,” informs the Principal Chief Conservator of the state forests. Besides a fairly good population of the tuskers in the Rajaji Park, tigers are also sighted. Park sources say that about 20 tigers, mostly confined to be a region, have been sighted.
The launching of Project Tiger in the Park will give a fillip to the conservation of the big cats. “It will increase the protections level of tigers in the Park,” says the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State, SS Sharma. Actually, the Rajaji Park faced many challenges include the issue of resettlement of the Van Gujjars (tribals) from the park. Due to porous borders, poachers find it easy to enter the park and target endangered species of the wildlife. Moreover, the railway tracks passing through the park have become the death knoll for wildlife.
Now, the launch of Project Tiger, ample funds will be available to get better infrastructure and resources, including trained manpower to protect wildlife and improve the quality of their habitat. Steps like setting up Rajaji Tiger foundation and State Tiger Protection Force can be taken. The long pending issue of rehabilitation of tribals and issue of shifting railway track will finally resolved.
— Haridwar Plus, Dated on 22 September, 2012