Waking up in the morning has always been a difficult task for me. I would prefer to be nocturnal than to wake up in the early morning. This morning was all the more difficult as i had to wake up to a wonderful dream of seeing tiger in naked eyes in the open forest of Corbett Tiger Reserve henceforth CTR.
Last day was the best day of my life so far as i saw the ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’ inside the bushes eating a hanuman langur! A Dream come true. So many people visit these tiger reserves five to ten times but they don’t even get to see a glimpse of these striped beast but here it was right infront of my eyes, that too the very first time i visited the reserve. I was mesmerised! The aura continued the whole day and i even fell asleep at night dreaming about it.
In the morning we went to visit the Sunderkhal Village which lies in the corridor of CTR and Ramganga reserved forest with kosi river flowing by. We had a long conversation with the Gram Pradhan Chandanramji. He told us the problems his villagers faces everyday in order to thrive in these tiger filled land with conflicts happening between man them most of the time. We came to know that their forefathers shifted to the area in 1972 from the hills near the banks of Kosi river and the CTR was 15 km away from them. But as time went by, ‘Project Tiger’ got initiated, various measures taken by NTCA,NGO’s blossomed, the forests expanded and now they touch the village. Their village Sunderkhal was declared as the buffer zone in the corridor between CTR and the Ramnagar forest division.
In one side, the floods in the river Kosi devastated their agricultural land and in the other side tiger and other wild animals taking away their lives and livelihood. Forest Department doesn’t help them as they are the “Ban shetra” or the encroachers according to Forest Rights Act! They have no proper documents except a Voter ID with which they only vote. They are deprived of their basic rights, they don’t get electricity but lines pass through them to supply a nearby industry. So helpless some of the houses uses solar panels as Candanramji uses it himself. They are in talks with the Government for relocation but none help them. Wildlife Trust of India, Sanskara, Bagh bachao these NGO’s had only approached them for help but they only provided 50 households relocation among 350 odd houses! So that didn’t work out as it seemed breaking them into pieces. Hearing the painful stories of the villagers the whole aura of seeing the tigers just vanished.
A VISIT TO THE MUSEUM
The visit to the Corbett Museum was quite interesting. We saw the boat used by Sir Edmund Hillary during his expedition to Mount Everest. Various animal stuffings were displayed that were found dead in the CTR years back,which were very well maintained.
MEETING WITH THE DIVISIONAL FOREST OFFICER
We had a great session of interaction with the DFO of CTR, Dr. Koko Rose. Many interacting facts got revealed through this meeting. He was young and enthusiastic. From him we got to know a woman was mauled by a tiger in the morning itself so he had to rush off to her family and pay a meagre amount of Rs. 50000 compensation which were not even enough. We also got to know that they get a fund of around Rs. 80000000 from Project Tiger. They are maintaining 9 thermosensory cameras put in a stand of height 30 m from the ground that takes about Rs. 40000000 to maintain! It has been successful to get hold of the poachers through these.There are about 200+ tigers in 1288 km2 of CTR. Dr. Rose said even his bosses say “we don’t need more tigers”. When asked how he feels to held his position, “im very happy to work here” was his quick reply.
After haering all the incidents happening inside the park and outside it, the conflicts between the tigers on which so much money is invested and the villagers who has been denied of their basic rights leads us to a crucial question at what cost the conservation of our National animal comes? I got a real dose of reality check and i am being grounded from the entire fascination of tigers and tigers and more tigers.
– Sayari Bhattacharya