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Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary, which is among the five proposed sites in the country, is expected to be formally notified as tiger reserve (TR) soon before the Global Tiger Summit, which is to be held in Vladivostok, Russia. On July 5 2021, the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change approved to grant the conversion of the Ramgarh Vishdhari Sanctuary in Rajasthan’s Bundi district into the fourth tiger reserve in the state. This was announced during the 4th Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation. The Centre has given its approval of granting tiger reserve status to Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary, along with MM Hills in Karnataka and Guru Ghasidas National Park in Chhattisgarh.
Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary
Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary is in the state of Rajasthan, 220 km from state capital Jaipur. Its creation was recommended by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The total area of 1,017 sq km that has been identified as the reserve area comprises of two forest blocks of Bhilwara and territorial forest block of Bundi and Indargarh, which fall under buffer zone of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR). The Rajasthan government got control of these forests after independence. In 1982, a part of the forest was declared as Ramgarh Vishddhari Wildlife Sanctuary under Section 5 of the Rajasthan Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act, 1951. The sanctuary has wild animals including leopards, sambhars, chitals, wild boars, etc. The move to convert it to a tiger reserve will strengthen the ongoing tiger conservation efforts in the state. In 2013, the Rajasthan government had upgraded Mukundra hills sanctuary as the third tiger reserve.
- Ramgarh Vishdhari Sanctuary will link Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in the Northeast & Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve on the southern side.
- The Ramgarh Vishdhari Sanctuary will be spread across 1,071 sq kms. A 302 Sq Km area in the proposed tiger sanctuary will be left as critical habitat for tigers and the rest of the area will act as a buffer zone for the Ranthambore National Park.
- Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1982. The core areas of the sanctuary have 8 villages and are home to large numbers of wild animals like sambhars, caracals, wild boars, nilgai, and striped Hyena.
- Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife sanctuary is known as a breeding place for tigers.
- In order to strengthen the prey base, Rajasthan has approved shifting of chital (spotted deer) from Ghana Bird Sanctuary (Karauli) to Ramgarh Vishdhari.
The Need for Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary
Ranthambore currently has 50 adult tigers and 27 cubs who require extra space via a safe corridor with lesser need for translocation. The RVTR being in close proximity of Ranthambore is being seen as a good choice for moving tigers to a new and safe territory. This is an achievement for the Rajasthan forest officials as they have been able to add 1,000 km of reserved area for tigers by getting RVTR declared as a tiger reserve. As a result of this, it gets a status as a land where tigers have to be protected under the Centrally-sponsored Project Tiger. This way they will be able to get funds for tiger conservation and other Central assistance.
The Ramgarh Vishdhari Tiger Reserve is expected to help in reducing the tiger-human conflict, but unfortunately Rajasthan’s record with wildlife sanctuaries and its short-staffed wildlife department isn’t inspiring. This has lead to the degrading of two of it’s reserves from ‘good’ to ‘fair’. This was because Ranthambore’s officials had failed to develop a grassland area on the lands freed up after 12 villages were vacated from the reserve’s core areas some 35 years ago.
The Rajasthan government had first announced in 2020 the plan to develop this sanctuary as a tiger reserve to provide additional habitat to Ranthambore tigers, improve ecosystem and strengthen tourism in its budget last year.
According to the 2018 tiger census, India had a total of 2,967 and from these Rajasthan has 69. These tigers are housed across three sanctuaries in Rajasthan and accounts for India’s 10th largest population of tigers. Each adult tiger needs at least 20 sq. km of territory. The RVTR hence will hopefully reduce the crisis of tigers straying out of Rathambore and then the government will formally open it up for tourists.