Why India’s newest Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh is so important

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Updated: October 07, 2021 2:21 PM

The new Reserve’s constituent units — Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary and Guru Ghasidas National Park — cover 608.5 sq km and 1,440 sq km, respectively.

Tiger 02This will be Chhattisgarh’s fourth Tiger Reserve after the Udanti-Sitanadi, Achanakmar, and Indravati Reserves. (File)

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Tuesday greenlit Chhattisgarh’s proposal to declare the combined areas of the Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary and the Guru Ghasidas National Park as a Tiger Reserve.

The new Reserve, located in the state’s north, borders Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. This will be Chhattisgarh’s fourth Tiger Reserve after the Udanti-Sitanadi, Achanakmar, and Indravati Reserves.

The NTCA’s 11th Technical Committee approved the proposal under Section 38V(1) of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

A decade’s efforts
The Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary was added to the Sarguja Jashpur Elephant Reserve in 2011. In undivided Madhya Pradesh, the Guru Ghasidas National Park was a part of the Sanjay National Park. Both were reserve forests and, since 2011, had been in line to be notified as Tiger Reserves.

Medium reserve
The new Reserve’s constituent units — Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary and Guru Ghasidas National Park — cover 608.5 sq km and 1,440 sq km, respectively.

Tamor Pingla is located in northwestern Chhattisgarh’s Surajpur district, while Guru Ghasidas National Park is situated in Koriya district.

Significance
Guru Ghasidas National Park is significant as the Asiatic cheetah’s last-known habitat in India. Part of Sanjay Dubri National Park originally, Guru Ghasidas Park was set up as a separate entity in Sarguja region of Chhattisgarh after the state came into being in 2001.

The state’s BJP government had decided to include the Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary as part of northern Chhattisgarh’s bigger elephant corridor and even moved to get approval to have the Bhoramdeo Wildlife Sanctuary at the centre as a Tiger Reserve. However, local resistance in Bhoramdeo forced the government to put the plan on the backburner in 2018.

The Congress government that came into power then threw its weight behind getting NTCA approval for the Guru Ghasidas National Park.

Wildlife activists and experts believe that converting Guru Ghasidas into a Tiger Reserve is an important step as it connects Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand and provides the tigers with a corridor to move between the Palamau and Bandhavgarh reserves.

On the other hand, Bhoramdeo connects Chhattisgarh’s Indravati Tiger Reserve with Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha Tiger Reserve and, according to experts, the conversion of Guru Ghasidas National Park into a Tiger Reserve should not affect the government’s attempts to turn Bhoramdeo into a Tiger Reserve as well.

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