Before the census I really believed that tigers were doomed to extinction and the Dhikala reserve should be closed completely since the wildlife was being disturbed very much due heavy inflow of tourist at Dhikala which was forcing the tigers to move to the buffer areas where they were likely to be poached.
After the census having spent some time with the workers and staff of Corbett Tiger Reserve, I realize that the tigers are not doomed to extinction, there is still hope. Yes the tiger population has come down drastically but still preventive measures on war footings can save the tiger. The tigers and the forests are still safe due to love and affection the people of forest have for the jungles and wildlife. The staff can do a lot for the jungles provided they have some authority and equipment. The forest guards are patrolling their respective beats with only a obsolete weapons with no certainty that it would fire or not, and in case it fires at the poachers would the state protect him or not. There are cases where a forest guard has shot a poacher and had to fight a court case for the rest of his life.
With true wildlife lovers like the Hon. Warden Mr. Brijendra Singh who spends all his seasons, be it summers monsoons or winter, he is inside the jungles patrolling and motivating the people leaving aside the luxuries of city life. Who can spend thousands for just saving a elephant calf without anything in return. With people like him around who can say the tigers are doomed. If we had few more like him it would make a tremendous difference.
I have found the goal in my life and the answer to my question that what can I do for the cause. The answer is that if only I continue what I am doing, i.e. educating people around me and motivate the staff looking after jungle. I believe I would have achieved something. The staff needs motivation and support. I would like to organize slide shows in Dhikala and ask people like Mr. Harak Singh Aswal to educate the viewers during slide shows regarding birds and their habitat. Mr. Karmiyal can give lectures to tourists also during slide shows regarding the terrain and wildlife around the park. I would also like to include other forest officials in the slide shows so that they feel motivated and honored and give lectures in their respective fields. This would also make them grow in their stature and would have an impact on their overall personality.
The tigers are the national pride of India and can be saved. The need is to focus on some basics like changes in the law, availability of finance for the park and the right people at right places.
I would like to suggest that during census for being more accurate in the counting , the park should be closed for tourists and the elephants should be made available to the census team. At various places we had observed that the tire marks had wiped out the pug marks, and due to vehicle movements the tiger being a shy animal avoided the natural waterholes and stayed deep in jungles.
Some of the unanimous suggestions which we gathered and were requested to put forward are as under:
1. The powers to shoot an offender and the protection later on should be given.
2. Motivation and proper incentives should be given to the staff.
3. More people like Hon. Warden Mr. Brijendra Singh should be given Hon. Post. something like Hon. Forester, Hon. DYP Ranger or Ranger can be given. The wildlife lovers / NGO's given the post should cover their respective areas during the season and off season under the supervision of the director and Hon. Warden.
4. Jim Corbett rightly said that the tiger cannot be saved until and unless public opinion changes hence the Dhikala frh should not be closed since it educates the tourist bringing more awareness but the tourists should be limited in Dhikala and divided to other parks like Halduparao, Jhirna, Kanda, Sonanadi, Sitabani etc..
5. The govt./authorities should form their own NGO which should propagate the requirements of funds from world over. The existing NGO's only have collections in the name of the park but in terms of disbursements not even 5% are disbursed.
6. The requirement of elephants is a priority. All the existing elephants have reached the age of retirement and to train the new breed takes time or else they would end up like Laksmi wounded by wild elephants. The availability of elephants should be in all the other rest houses also. So that the tourist can also go there.
7. The vehicle movement within the park should be very limited. A tour of the park should be only on elephant back since the vehicle movement disturbs the animals to a very great extent and specially the diesel vehicles since it makes to much of noise which forces the animals to stray in buffer areas.
8. All the junior and senior staff should be instructed to wear shoes as a must and part of dress code. Which would result in less of foot injuries and diseases.
9. The buffer area patrolling should be strengthened and a regular checks should be conducted.
10. The villagers in and around the park should be educated and made aware of the benefits of the park and jungles. They should also be involved in something connected with the park it has been observed that no poacher can be successful without the help of some locality.
I would like to thank Mr. R. C. Gautam, director CTR, for allowing us to participate in the census and giving us the opportunity of a lifetime in going to the core of the jungles. I make myself available for any work that the director deems fit for the conservation and preservation of forest and wildlife.