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MP Plans Private Investment For Protecting Dispersal Tigers
3,000-5,000 hectares in degraded forest areas will be available for private players to manage and mantain

02 April 2016

Shashikant Trivedi, Bhopal:
  The Madhya Pradesh government is toying with the idea of involving private players in its efforts to earmark protected areas and secure habitats for dispersal tigers. The habitats would be managed by private parties.
If government sources are believed, 3,000-5,000 hectares in degraded forest areas will be available for private players. The state forest department today initiated efforts to draw a blueprint through the eco-tourism route. The four-stage plan, according to government officials, would be forwarded to the Central government.
“The area would be developed as a private area within the existing legal framework of the Indian Forest Act and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” a senior forest department official told Business Standard. “Translocation of dispersal tigers from forests with inadequate prey base will avoid the man-animal conflict due to cattle lifting and occasional attacks on locals venturing into the forests for collection of forest produces.”
The meeting also observed that the habitat would be big enough to carry two to three breeding females and one large male, or as many as can be deemed good founder breeding population. “The tiger cubs could be removed at dispersal age and relocated to other appropriate tiger reserves,” the official said.
The concept has been borrowed from existing similar practices of having protected areas under the management of private enterprise in various other countries such as the US and Australia, and in some African countries as well.
A well-placed source in the state government said that if the plan gets central government approval, private players will be allowed to undertake certain tourism activities like guided vehicular excursions, nature treks with night camping, self-guided nature trails, bird watching, machan and hide experiences, film shows and thematic talks and interpretation centres.
The private players, however, would be mandated to meet the need of firewood and fodder for the community having rights under legal provisions over the forest land. Private player may be asked to manage 10-20% of the forest area. “There is huge potential in this project, and it should be planned in such a way that every large city can have such areas. It would pave the way for education, revenue and awareness about wildlife protection and eventually leads to successful conservation,” Shyamendra Singh, a private player told Business Standard. Singh runs his eco-tourism activities under Pagdandi Safari in various parts of the country and state.
The concept has also come up since there is a drastic fall in tourist arrivals in the state due to the ban in core tiger areas. “During the year 2013-14 Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench tiger reserves have posted a fall of 27% from the year 2011-12,” a senior forest department official said. Also the man-animal conflict has claimed four lives, 106 injuries and 1,822 animal losses.   
The state eco-tourism board has already launched two initiatives -- buffer zone tourism and tiger safari. Under tiger safari the forest department would create various tourism facilities on an area of 500-1,000 hectares. Buffer zone tourism would include tourism activities in buffer areas.