India to Ban Human Habitat near Tiger Reserves

On June 11, the Union Minister of State For Environments & Forests Jairam Ramesh declared that there will be a complete ban on human habitat near all the tiger reserves in the country. According to the new policy, there will be no human habitation in the Core Area which is also known as the Inviolate Area and the only human animal interaction will be in the outer area more commonly known as the Buffer Zone.  Bhadra Tiger Reserve in the southern state of Karnataka is the first such model at the working level.

In his statement, Ramesh said that this move will require the relocation of a 1,00,000 tribal families who will be given a compensation of Rs. 10,00,000/- each (Rupees One Million). What comes as even better news is that he has assured that this time money will not be a constraint in implementing this policy. “The Prime Minister and the Planning Commission has assured us that funds would not be a constraint in implementing the relocation under the Project Tiger”, he said.

This move comes as a huge win for the conservation of tigers in India. There were around 40,000 tigers in India a century ago. A government census in 2007 put the figure at 1,411 down from 3,642 in 2002. The main reason for this large decline in numbers is their dwindling habitat and poaching.

A special panel set up by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 said that thousands of poor villagers who live in the tiger reserves of India will have to be relocated to protect the endangered species from poachers and smugglers who take advantage of the grinding poverty of the villagers to keep them on their side.

Hopefully this move will help the conservation efforts and save these magnificent animals from extinction.