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Restoration of natural corridors along south must for health, survival of KNP tigers: Vasu
Debasish Baruah
 KAZIRANGA, July 31 - “There is a need to restore the natural connectivity and the corridors between the forest areas to the south of the Kaziranga National Park-cum-Tiger Reserve in Assam with the Park itself for the health, survival of the Royal Bengal Tiger species. This should be followed by a proper survey in forests where connectivity is feasible.” This was the view expressed by NK Vasu, former head of the Assam Forest Department, who had a wide experience in serving as the Director of Kaziranga National Park on the eve of International Tiger Day.

Vasu, in an exclusive conversation with this correspondent said that Kaziranga National Park is a unique forest unlike any other forest of India as it has an excellent prey base needed for the healthy survival of Royal Bengal Tiger and better connectivity between different adjoining forest areas including Orang, Nameri, Loakhuwa Burachapori and others due to the Brahmaputra river system and its tributaries. He said that Kaziranga remained a source population area for Royal Bengal Tigers and that the Brahmaputra river system was serving an excellent purpose for tiger movement. Vasu pointed that river islands or chaporis in Brahmaputra river served as a good habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger as it was confirmed that the tiger species could be sighted from Kaliabor upto Majuli.

But, on the southern side of the Kaziranga National Park, Vasu said that earlier there was connectivity between the Kaziranga forest with adjoining forests of Karbi Anglong, Hojai, Doboka upto Lumding and North Cachar hills forest which was very unique and served as an ideal habitat for any tiger species including Royal Bengal Tigers to breed and produce healthy offspring. He added that prior to the year 2000, Royal Bengal tigers were even sighted in Hojai area. But those natural corridors have been lost primarily due to human interference and so it was very important to again identify natural connectivity between different forest areas with Kaziranga apart from protecting the existing natural corridors for ensuring better movement of the tigers from one forest area to another.

When this correspondent pointed out the issue of a recent report on discoloration or colour variation in Royal Bengal Tiger species in Kaziranga forests, Vasu said some more specific research work was needed to address this problem but emphasised that better connectivity must be ensured between different forests along with Kaziranga.

He said that Assam is having a healthy population of Royal Bengal tigers due to sincere commitment of people of Assam.

Bibhab Talukdar from Aaranyak, an environmental NGO said for maintaining any healthy population of tigers in the State suitable connectivity is needed to ensure free movement of the Royal Bengal tiger. He said if needed some species of Royal Bengal tigers can be translocated to other forest areas of India for better survival.

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