UP plans 4th tiger reserve, may get big cats from Panna

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LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh may soon get its fourth tiger reserve, thanks to big cats strolling into the state from Madhya Pradesh's Panna reserve.

The state government has proposed to develop Ranipur wildlife sanctuary in Chitrakoot (Bundelkhand region) into a tiger reserve, given its proximity to Panna. The two reserves are located at a distance of 150km along the UP-MP border. Ranipur doesn't have any tiger, but the ones from Panna keep frequenting the sanctuary. Tiger pugmarks are regularly found at Ranipur.

"If the place is developed as a separate tiger reserve, it might get some of these stray tigers finding their territories at Ranipur," said a UP forest department source, adding the final decision would be taken by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the National Board of Wildlife.

At present, UP has 100-odd tigers in three tiger reserves at Lakhimpur (884sq.km Dudhwa reserve), Pilibhit (720sq.km) and Bijnor (80sq.km Amangarh reserve).

While these reserves are tiger-dominant areas, 250sq.km Ranipur sanctuary has no 'resident' tigers. The sanctuary, though, has a large antelope population comprising 'chausinghas, chinkara, sloth bear, black bucks and leopards.

Ranipur is not a popular wildlife sanctuary and does not attract enough tourists because of its difficult access. But proximity to Panna and being developed as a tiger reserve can help draw tourists.

Besides, tiger reserve status will fetch it additional funds under Project Tiger, a worked-out wildlife management plan and central assistance to boost security and technical know-how in the sanctuary.

The other wildlife sanctuaries in Bundelkhand eco-tourism circuit like Vijaysagar and Mahavir Swamy too will gain from Ranipur's enhanced status.

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