Melghat Tiger Reserve Staging a Turnaround

Melghat tiger reserve is staging a turnaround of sorts, with various improvements and better wildlife health across the reserve. For one, camera traps have recorded the presence of six new tiger cubs. The reserve’s field director, A.K.Mishra estimates the tiger numbers to go up to 50-55 with the new additions. He attributes the success to better protection and group patrolling, awareness amongst villagers and imposing curbs on grazing. 500 cattle have been seized and cases filed against illicit grazers. Forest fire incidence has also been brought down. Relocation of villages (three in Wan and two partial relocations in Melghat) have also reduced the grazing pressure of 4,500 cattle. The reserve’s management effectiveness evaluation score was poor in 2006, but has bounced back to good in the latest evaluation in 2011. Tiger conservationist Kishore Rithe admits that the protection mechanism has been revamped and suggests that if tourism management is handed over to local communities, it will help improve livelihoods and bring about local support for conservation.

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