A dangerous path: New highway could jeopardize tigers in India

28 June 2017

MOMGABAY
Rachel Fritts

  • Conservationists have witnessed several unsettling deaths of tigers in Corbett National Park recently, one of India’s most important tiger parks.
  • The state government of Uttarakhand, however, is moving forward on a plan to upgrade a road through the park into a full, public highway leading to alarm among tiger conservationists.
  • Officials are currently discussing turning portions of the highway into a flyover, allowing wildlife to pass underneath, but even this would only mitigate the impact.

On May 1, forestry officials in the Indian state of Uttarakhand discovered a tiger cub, abandoned and injured. They attempted to rescue the animal, but had arrived too late – it succumbed to dehydration the next day. Another young tiger, rescued in the region on the same day, died of starvation the following week.

Ten tigers have now been found dead or dying in Uttarakhand since the beginning of 2017, and conservationists fear many more deaths could be on the horizon. The Uttarakhand government has recently proposed turning a small, partially paved road into a full-fledged national highway that would run straight through the heart of the state’s Corbett Tiger Reserve.

India’s flagship tiger park

Located in the northeast of India, at the foot of the Himalayas, Corbett Tiger Reserve spans over 1,300 square kilometers of dense forest and lush grassland fed by the sprawling Ramganga River reservoir. Corbett and the surrounding region are home to over 300 Bengal tigers, as well as a plethora of other wildlife including Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), leopards (Panthera pardus), sloth bears (Melursus ursinus), spotted deer (Axis axis), and a dizzying array of birdlife.

Not only is Corbett the oldest national park in India, it was also the flagship park of the Indian government’s Project Tiger in the 1970s, launched to encourage sustainable management of the country’s tiger population. In many ways, Corbett is held up as the gold standard for what a tiger reserve should be, and indeed, its tiger population has been expanding in recent years.

Read full news article here

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