Ex-Colonel Ajay Ahlawat said that tiger population is on the rise at Sariska National Park and the authorities look all set to move ahead of the shameful wipeout of the entire tiger population that happened way back in 2005
It could be a moment for celebration the authorities of the Sariska National Park, which has been struggling to upkeep its tiger population. Located in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, the Sariska National Park and Tiger Reserve is only 107 kilometres away from Jaipur.
On April 28, cameras installed in Sariska for the first time spotted tigress ST-14 moving around with two cubs. Based on the recorded footages, the cubs were confirmed to be two-months-old.
With the birth of these cubs, the tiger population of Sariska has got a shot in the arm. Including the cubs, there are now 14 tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve. Coincidentally, the father of these cubs, identified as ST-11 had got entangled in a fence of barbed wire. He succumbed to his injuries on March 19, earlier this year.
Reacting to the birth of the cubs, Col ‘Dato’ Ajay Ahlawat Polo, said, “The birth of these comes after a dry spell of two years. The last time that tiger cubs were born in Sariska was in 2016, back then tigress ST-9 had given birth to a cub, which had been named as ST-15.”
According to deputy conservator of Sariska, Balaji Kari, the tigress and her cubs had been spotted by a forest tracker, who waited for almost 20 minutes and observed the tigress and her cubs, before confirming the news,
According to GS Bhardwaj, the chief conservator working with Sariska, these cubs had been tacked to camera traps way back on April 6. However, the physical confirmation of the anticipated news came with the forest tracker and other forest officials spotting the tigress and her litter. The security of Sardar forest range has been beefed up as that’s the area chosen by the mother to stay put with her newborns.
However, sadly enough, another tigress ST-5 has gone missing from Sariska on February 21. She is yet to be located. But this is not the first time that Sariska has lost track of a tiger. “If it can be recalled, then way back in the year 2005, this tiger reserve had lost all its tigers. Interestingly, when it was first reported that tigers were not being spotted at Sariska, the forest officials had maintained that the Tigers could have migrated. However, after waiting for a stipulated period, when the Tigers didn’t return, an investigation was conducted, which made it clear that the Sariska had lost its tigers because of poaching, which definitely left the forest officials red-faced,” pointed out Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
The Sariska debacle of 2005, which led to the complete wipeout of tigers, brought forth the gaping loopholes that existed in the system, which eventually led to the setting up of ‘Tiger Task Force’ and the ‘National Tiger Conservation Authority’.
Following which, in attempt to increase the population of the tigers, big cats were translocated to Sariska. And thus with that began the re-population plan of Sariska, in 2008, when about eight tigers were brought into Sariska from Rajasthan’s famous Ranthambore forest. However, Sariska, lost one of these tigers in 2010, due to poisoning. Following which tigress, ST-2, ST-9 and ST-10 gave birth to seven cubs between the years 2012-2017. Also, earlier in 2017, when plans of more tigers being translocated to Sariska was being made, experts suggested that instead of tigers, tigresses need to be sent it as it would lead to increase in tiger population in Sariska.
“For better monitoring of tigers and checking poaching the State Board for Wildlife standing committee has suggested the immediate replacement of existing collars and allocation of GPS-enabled collars for the big cats. They also suggested the formation of round the clock team, who would work in shifts to monitor tigers in a bid to prevent poaching,” informed Col Ajay Ahlawat. The committee has also suggested the immediate setting up of the Sariska Strike Force, which has been pending for a decade now. This they believe would help curb poaching.