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Uttar Pradesh mulling over proposal to turn Shivalik forest into tiger reserve

Representational image. File

Representational image. File   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

The Saharanpur Divisional Commissioner has sent a proposal to the State government to declare the Shivalik forest in the Saharanpur circle into a tiger reserve.

The State government is actively considering the proposal and would push it forward to the Central government to take a call, sources said.

If accepted, it would be the fourth tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh after Amangarh in Bijnor, Pilibhit and Dudhwa in Lakhimpur-Kheri.

V.K. Jain, Chief Conservator of Forests, Saharanpur division, told The Hindu, “The move would not only reduce the increasing man-animal conflict but also help nurture the rich biodiversity of the region. The forest constitutes the northern tip of the State and the 33,220-hectare-long corridor, located at the foothills of the Shivalik range, connects four States — Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. It will facilitate the safe movement of tigers,” he said.

With the rising tiger population, there is an increase in the number of clashes between tigers to protect their territory, he said. “The weaker ones often move into sugarcane fields where they can easily hide. The fields prove to be excellent hideouts. But it increases the chances of human-animal conflict. In such a scenario, it is necessary to increase the area for movement of tigers.”

Suitable spot

With the Uttarakhand government proposing to relocate tigers from Corbett to Motichur range of the Rajaji National Park, he added, the Shivalik forests in Saharanpur would be suitable for their movement.

“The topography of the forests is similar to that of the Rajaji National Park. In fact, the area is rich in biodiversity and could be turned into a hub for eco-tourism. No tiger has been sighted in the region for the last 10 years, but we have counted at least 50 leopards in the forests.”

Stegodon fossil

It was during one such camera-trap survey to count the leopard and deer population that Mr. Jain and a team of the World Wide Fund for Nature came across a piece of fossil of Stegodon in a sandstone rock.

“We took it to the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) where the scientists confirmed that it belonged to the predecessor of the modern-day elephant,” claimed Mr. Jain.

WIHG scientist R.K. Sehgal, who inspected the piece of the fossil, described it as the first of its kind found in the region. “What we have found is mandibular ramus of Stegodon from the Middle Shiwalik sediments. In simple terms, it is the molar of the lower jaw of an extinct elephant. Pieces of fossil of Stegodon have been found in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. This one is around 5-6 million years old.”

Stegodon was slightly smaller than the present-day elephant but its tusks were three to four times longer, he said.

Dr. Sehgal said, “It suggested that the area was a dense forest with prominent riverine systems. In the past, fossilised parts of giraffe and hippopotamus, which are no longer found in the subcontinent, have also been found in the region.”

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 7:52:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/uttar-pradesh-mulling-over-proposal-to-turn-shivalik-forest-into-tiger-reserve/article31968322.ece

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