Project Tiger fails to roar

The four tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu do not meet the standards of NTCA
Chennai: All is not well with Project Tiger. The four tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu do not meet the standards prescribed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body.
“Every year the Centre releases about Rs 6 crore in funding for the state’s tiger reserves, but some of the basic recommendations of NTCA are not being met. TN is a state that is lacking in high-end equipment, like scanning and lab facilities, to investigate animal genetics and in-breeding,” said an official from the Union ministry of environment and forests.
NTCA guidelines mandate that the capture of large wild animals required a skilled team, comprising wildlife managers, biologists, trained veterinarians and preferably, a person specialising in animal anaesthesia, but all the tiger reserves, except Mudumalai, failed in human resources and facilities, the official said. What was the state doing with the funds from the NTCA since 2008?
“The recent report from the World Wildlife Fund, informing that half the animals in the world had disappeared in the last 40 years, sent shock waves, but the situation in Tamil Nadu is even worse,” said Mr S. Jayachandran, joint secretary, TN Green Movement. “The four tiger reserves in the state not only lack genetic labs, surgeons and X-ray machines, but face acute shortage of veterinary doctors and field biologists. The TN Wildlife Wing has only two veterinary doctors on call to attend wildlife issues,” he alleged.
“TN depends on the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, for wildlife research and advanced studies as there are no hi-tech labs in the state, compared to the tiger reserves in Kerala and Karnataka,” said wildlife scientist Dr A. Kumaraguru, who worked on the DNA of tigers in Satyamangalam.
Kumaraguru, who is also a member of the Satyamangalam Tiger Reserve Foundation, said that the state was working towards establishing a genetic lab in Vandalur zoo which would help wildlife conservation in the state.
“The state needs at least six veterinarians and a dozen biologists to study wildlife conflict. There is the need for a more scientific approach,” said a senior forest ranger in Coimbatore.
A senior wildlife official said that he would look into the shortcomings of tiger reserves. As for recruiting field biologists and vets, this was a policy decision.
( Source : dc )
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