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Tiger reserves to remain closed during monsoon

The Hindu
New Delhi
4 Jul 2017

Conservation panel says it’s the breeding season for wild animals, especially tigers

Tourism zones falling in the national park areas of the world famous Ranthambhore and Sariska tiger reserves in Rajasthan will remain closed during monsoon this year as the Forest Department has revised its earlier orders for keeping them open.

The decision was taken after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) took up the matter with the State government.

The orders for keeping the tiger reserves open for tourism during July to September were issued on June 9 following a meeting of the State Wildlife Board’s standing committee and Ranthambhore Tiger Conservation Foundation. The guidelines of NTCA were mainly examined at the meeting.

State Chief Wildlife Warden G.V. Reddy told The Hindu on Monday that the revised orders for closure of tiger reserves would be applicable to the national park areas. “The fringe areas will be kept open for the tourism activities,” he said.

The revised orders, issued after considering the views of Field Directors, provide for complete closure of tourism zones 1 to 5 at Ranthambhore and two tourism zones at Sariska.

The forest officers will also observe the condition of local roads and safety issues for closing specified zones for specific periods.

While the NTCA has laid emphasis on keeping the national parks closed during monsoon as it is the breeding period of wild animals, especially the tigers, the State Wildlife Board had observed that the breeding of tigers extended throughout the year in Rajasthan, which is a low rainfall area.

The criterion of closure due to monsoon season might not apply in the State and the damage caused by safaris to roads in the tiger reserve areas was “very negligible,” while the tourists were safe for travelling.

Dr. Reddy pointed out that the zones 6 to 10 at Ranthambhore had been opened for tourism during monsoon in the past few years and no adverse effect on tigers and their conservation had been observed.

Significantly, as many as nine parks in the rain intensive States of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu remain open throughout the year. The NTCA, while identifying factors for closure during monsoon in its 2015 directive, had stated that the period for closure would be decided by the respective State governments.