Conservation authority protocol could hinder dislocation move

Going by the NTCA guidelines, however, the government cannot shift the big cats from Wayanad citing overpopulation.

Published: 22nd January 2023 06:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd January 2023 06:41 AM   |  A+A-


By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the state plans to dislocate tigers from overpopulated Wayanad to the Periyar and Parambikulam sanctuaries, the existing National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) protocol could pose hurdles to the government’s move.

As per the protocol, the big cats can be translocated for two reasons alone. Either as part of reintroduction, which is an attempt to establish a population in an area which was once part of its historical range, but from where the animal has since become extinct. Second, for reinforcement or supplementation, which is to add numbers to an existing sanctuary to enhance its long-term viability.

The NTCA protocol clearly states that at no time should tiger translocation be viewed as an alternative to, or compromise on, habitat connectivity for sustaining and promoting natural dispersal between populations.

The state government recently decided to approach the Union ministry for environment and forests to seek an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act, so as to facilitate shifting and culling of animals that pose a threat to human beings. State forest minister A K Saseendran clarified that the government has been looking at all possibilities, including translocation of tigers.

Going by the NTCA guidelines, however, the government cannot shift the big cats from Wayanad citing overpopulation. The authority also mandates the method for translocation. A team should be constituted with representatives from the Wildlife Institute of India, state forest department, a qualified veterinarian and a qualified wildlife biologist. While translocating, the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act must be adhered to.

Moreover, there are a slew of other activities that should be done before moving animals. A feasibility study and background research should be done to assess the taxonomic status of the species to be shifted. Moreover, a population and habitat viability analysis should be carried out to assess possible interactions. Identifying the choice of release site and type, evaluation of re-introduction site, suitability of release stock of tigers, looking at socio-economic requirements and a slew of post-release activities are also part of the protocol to be followed. The planning and preparation stages include monitoring programmes, besides vaccination and other appropriate veterinary measures.


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