Apart from boosting air connectivity in his native Gwalior, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has shifted attention to boost biodiversity in Shivpuri, a part of his former Lok Sabha constituency. A couple of days ago, he wrote to his cabinet colleague Bhupendra Yadav, the minister for environment, forest and climate change, seeking reintroduction of tigers at Madhav National Park in Shivpuri.
The minister quoted a plan forwarded by park director to the forest department in Madhya Pradesh recently, in which the officer has proposed the reintroduction of tigers, which entails a budget of Rs 106 crore for the next five years.
Once a reserve park of the erstwhile Scindia family, the minister said the area was abode to tigers for well over 200 years. A wildlife census showed the presence of four tigers in the region in 1980, 1981 and 1987, while a fully grown big cat, measuring 8.5 feet, was spotted in the area in 1996, Scindia wrote in his letter and referring to official records.
The Rajya Sabha MP claimed that after reintroduction of tigers in the 1990s, the park had 10 to 15 big cats and the population surged, but due to poor maintenance and negligence, the tiger safari shut down in subsequent years.
Following a survey from Wildlife Protection Society of India in 1999 for assessing the park as a suitable tiger habitat, the Madhya Pradesh government, too, formed a committee for the reintroduction of tigers in 2005, Scindia wrote.
In this regard, the present director too has chalked out an action plan recently with a plan outlay of Rs 106 crore, said the minister, urging Yadav to sanction the project.
In the last decade or so, MP’s tiger reserves including Bandhavgarh, Satpura and Kanha have achieved saturation in terms of big cat population. A wildlife census released in 2019 put the state on the number one spot in the country with maximum 526 tigers.
A senior officer of the forest department said the state also reported high tiger mortality and, in most cases, the reason behind the death of the animal was listed as territorial fight, which indicated space crunch.