Tadoba National Park

Situated in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state, Tadoba National Park is the largest and oldest National Park in Maharashtra, established in 1955.

Latest Context:

The Tadoba National park has been in the news recently due to the implementation of voluntary relocation of Karwa village out of the buffer zone, paving the way for its expansion. Several reported incidents of Human-Animal conflict in the periphery established this as one of the major areas witnessing a shrinking habitation, expanding population of wildlife. Further, in the Moharli buffer range of the reserved area, a 2.5-3-year-old tiger was found dead in an agricultural field in the recent past.

In this article, we shall be discussing the Tadoba National Park, various issues concerning this protected area, and other dimensions, keeping in mind the requirements of the preliminary as well as the main examination of the UPSC IAS Exam.

Tadoba National Park – Features

  • It features in the list of India’s project tiger reserves, playing an important role as a functionary of Project Tiger.
  • Tadoba National Park has a diverse landscape with valleys, spreading over an area of 625.4 square kilometres.
  • It is enclosed by dense forest, smooth meadows, along with heavily forested hills ranging from 200 m to 350 m.
  • The terrains of the national park inhabit Tropical Deciduous Forests, featuring Shorea robusta (Sal) as dominant species, along with bamboo thickets and dense woodlands.
  • The Kolsa Lake, Andhari River as well as Tadoba Lake constitute wetland areas, inside the park, supporting a good number of aquatic species, with reported sightings of Mugger crocodiles.
  • It is a good prey base for tigers, however, it is reaching a saturation point.

National Parks in India - Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra

Image Credit: Maps of India

How a National Park is declared?

  • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 under clause 35 spells out the procedure for declaration of an area as a national park.
  • State Government can declare an area having an ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological or zoological association/importance, to be constituted as a National Park for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wild life therein or its environment.
  • The area may or may not fall within a sanctuary.
  • If the proposed area also accounts for territorial waters to be included in a National Park, the provisions of section 26A of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 applies in relation to the declaration of a National Park, similar to that of a sanctuary.
  • Limits of the area to be declared as a National Park has to be clearly specified.
  • This section also provides for investigation and determination of claims, and extinguishment of rights, in relation to any land in such in the proposed protected area.
  • No alteration of the boundaries of a National Park by the State Government is allowed, except under the recommendation of the National Board.
  • No person shall destroy, exploit or remove any Wildlife including forest produce from a National Park or destroy or damage or divert the habitat of any wild animal.
  • Diversion, stoppage, or enhancement of the flow of water into or outside the National Park is not allowed, except in accordance with a permit granted by the Chief Wildlife Warden.
  • Permits are granted only if the actions are necessary for the improvement and better management of wildlife therein, authorizing the issue of such permit.
  • Forest produce removed from a National Park can only be used for meeting the personal bona fide needs of the people living in and around the National Park, and not for any commercial purpose.
  • No grazing of any livestock shall be permitted in a National Park.
  • Only those livestock or animals used as vehicles under the express permission of the competent authority can enter the National park.
  • There are 104 existing national parks in India covering an area of 43,716 km2, which is 1.33% of the geographical area of the country as per the National Wildlife Database, as of December 2020.
  • In addition to the above, 75 National Parks covering an area of 16,608 km2 are proposed in the Protected Area Network Report.

What is Project Tiger?

  • The Govt. of India had launched Project Tiger on 1st April 1973 to promote the conservation of the tiger.
  • Project Tiger has been the largest species conservation initiative of its kind in the world.
  • The field implementation of the project, protection and management in the designated reserves is done by the project states, who also provide the matching grant to recurring items of expenditure, deploy field staff/officers, and give their salaries.
  • The Project Tiger Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is mandated with the task of providing technical guidance and funding support.
  • The implementation of Project Tiger over the years has highlighted the need for a statutory authority with the legal backing to ensure tiger conservation.

Read about the discussion held on the Importance of Tiger Conservation in the RSTV – Big Picture episode in the linked article.

What is the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)?

  • On the basis of the recommendations of the National Board for Wildlife chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, a task force was set up to look into the problems of tiger conservation in the country.
  • It recommended strengthening Project Tiger by giving it statutory and administrative powers, apart from creating the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.
  • Project Tiger was converted into a statutory authority (NTCA) by providing enabling provisions in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 through an amendment, viz. Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006.
  • This forms one of the urgent recommendations of the Tiger Task Force appointed by the Prime Minister.
  • The NTCA addresses the ecological as well as administrative concerns for conserving tigers, by providing a statutory basis for the protection of tiger reserves, apart from providing strengthened institutional mechanisms for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas and endangered species.
  • The Authority also ensures enforcing of guidelines for tiger conservation and monitoring compliance of the same, apart from the placement of motivated and trained officers having a good track record as Field Directors of tiger reserves.
  • It also facilitates capacity building of officers and staff posted in tiger reserves, apart from a time-bound staff development plan.

Read more about the National Tiger Conservation Authority in the linked article.

What are the issues associated with Tadoba National Park?

  • Issues of Human-Wildlife conflict are frequently reported.
  • In the recent past, a tiger with her two cubs was found dead.
  • Instances of attack on domestic animals and humans are reported.
  • Shrinking prey base for the tiger population with respect to their numbers.
  • Habitation reaching its ecosystem saturation point to accommodate more tigers.
  • Insufficient prey base in adjoining regions where the tigers can move, as their population rises.
  • Forest Divisions and regions such as Gadchiroli, despite dense forests and the bordering districts of Telangana, are the ones where an increase in the number of animal wildlife conflicts is reported, a spill-over population of tigers sighted.
  • Poaching, illegal fencing and poisoning of the animals are some challenges faced in protecting the tiger population.

Conclusion

National parks are one category of the reserved area, assigned high priority for protection, conservation and propagation of the flora and fauna, and biodiversity. They form crucial linkages to sustain the wildlife, help them migrate and perform many other functions by providing livelihood to the forest dwellers, balancing the local climate.

With the depletion of habitat, human-wildlife conflicts are increasing day by day. It is the need of the hour to expand the protected areas, giving more space to the wildlife, ensuring it does not reach saturation. Therefore, the protection of wildlife and the creation of more national parks serves the larger interest of the environment, society and nation as a whole, and thus should be accorded urgency.

This article is relevant for the Environment section of the UPSC syllabus prescribed for Preliminary and Main Examination of UPSC Civil Service.

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