Jaipur: Spread over 866 sq km, the Sariska National Park in Rajasthan was once home to 15 tigers. Poaching reduced the number to zero till re-population began with the shifting of five tigers from another park. Now, three more of the majestic cats are to be relocated to increase their numbers to eight, an official said.
"There are at present three tigers and two tigresses in the reserve. A high-level meeting was held recently in which it was decided that at least three more tigers will be relocated to Sariska soon," a senior forest department officer said.
He said the modalities of the relocation are being discussed at present.
"The relocation is being carried out to enhance the tiger population in Sariska. We are planning to bring more tigresses to the reserve," said the officer.
He added that the areas surrounding the reserve will be declared an eco-sensitive zone to provide the tigers a safe environment.
During 2004-05, the forest department and the state government faced all-round criticism over the disappearance of tigers from Sariska.
A report produced in March 2005 by the Wildlife Institute of India confirmed that there were no tigers left in the Sariska reserve at all. Poaching was found to be a reason for the dwindling tiger population.
Facing flak from different quarters, the state government decided to relocate tigers from the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan to Sariska. Five tigers from Ranthambore have been shifted to Sariska since 2008.
The Sariska Tiger Reserve, originally a hunting preserve of the erstwhile princely state of Alwar, was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955 and attained the status of a National Park in 1979.