By Udit Garg:
Ranthambore National Park, one of India’s biggest national park reserves is a home to tigers and 270 species of birds. It is situated in Rajasthan and is spread over 275 square kilometers. It is still believed that Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places to spot tigers, where one can see a tiger even in day light, which is very rare in other national parks. Ranthambore National Park is listed under Project Tiger (implemented in 1973) and is associated with Sariska National Park (reserve for tigers across India.)
World Wide Fund (WWF) is an international Non-Governmental Organization, which is working very hard, together with Government of India to save, catalogue, and increase the population of endangered species like crocodiles, turtles, tigers, rhinoceros etc. WWF, along with officials of Ranthambore National Park have been able to work very hard and catalogue all the tigers in park. They are trying to protect the endangered big cats and are trying to increase their population. The aims of WWF in Ranthambore are:
1. Minimize the tiger-human interactions so as to curb poaching and unwanted loss of human/tiger life.
2. Surveillance of national park to prohibit un-wanted access by poachers.
3. Increase in the number of tigers.
In year 2005, Ranthambore saw a considerable gain in the number of tigers due to good implementation of Project Tiger, but in 2008 when Government of India again catalogued tiger population in the area, officials were shocked to see that tiger population had decreased to its lowest numbers in last 3 decades; there were only 34 tigers left with 20 adults and 14 cubs. The scenario was so grim that the Supreme Court had to step in between and had to order CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to investigate. Very detailed investigation was implemented by CBI, they re-catalogued all the tigers, went again and again through the population trends, researches; anything they could find. Finally, the results were out and they were shocking. Due to the huge demand of tiger skin in local markets, the poachers were freely moving in the park with the help of park officials who were on payroll.
A staggering total of 15 poachers were arrested by CBI and 21 tiger skins were collected from the clutches of these poachers. The Supreme Court ordered investigations against park officials and new, more trustworthy officials were called for the administration of the park. Since December 2008, considerable change in the number of tigers has been seen. In 2010, WWF published its annual report and according to statistics the current population of tigers is 67 and counting. Government of India together with various NGO’s has worked hard upon the Tiger Project and $153 million dollars has been spent in the park.
WWF also reported a recent incident where a tiger in the park went out toward the railway tracks and got killed by the train. WWF on their 2010 annual report published a story about a female tiger which mated with a male, gave birth to 2 female cubs, one of the cub mated with another male and gave birth to 2 male cubs and one of that male cub was victim to the train accident. A very brutal way to die, I believe.
According to latest sources, the park is now equipped with CCTV cameras all around it. The government has implemented tough punishments for poachers and is training multiple dog teams for arresting poachers. Supreme Court has also ordered park officials to regularly count tigers in park and report to nearest high court.