June 28, 2008, will be marked as a historical event almost every year for tiger conservation post independent India. Project Tiger, started in 1972 is a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitat in India. The tiger which is an iconic species must be conserved and attempts should be made to prevent the animal from becoming extinct and preserving its natural habitat.
An arduous task was assigned in 2005 to the Sariska’s frontline staff “the unsung heroes” to bring the king back to Sariska in India’s attempt of reintroducing tigers in the wild.
For three years from 2005 to 2008 the team revamped the protection network by initiating night patrolling in 120 routes, frequent raids, and searches to nab possible poachers, simultaneously regulating the Pandupole religious tourism and relocating the Bhagani village at Behror Rund.
In the efforts to create an enabling atmosphere, the meeting was conducted at the village level to disseminate awareness on tiger reintroduction project.
The first meeting was held on the plateau of Kiraska on May 29, 2008, and surprisingly villagers agreed to the idea. The women folk came up with an explanation that presence of tigers help in better management of cattle as it keeps diseases at bay by killing the weaker and sick ones. Seventeen villages agreed and assured of protecting the tiger when reintroduced.
Ground zero condition prevailed at that point of time but by the relentless efforts and support of the villagers, the forest department was successful in the reintroduction of the tiger into the wild. A sigh of relief for the forest officials.
Now 9 years have been passed and Sariska now flourishes with 14 tigers. We must pray that the villages are relocated from the critical tiger habitat and pave the way to a low disturbance free core natural area for this majestic species to breed and prosper.