The road to tiger recovery in Rajaji

Landmark translocation of tigers to strengthen conservation efforts in western Rajaji. Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand received two tigers from Corbett Tiger Reserve as part of an ongoing conservation effort to boost the tiger population in the wester

January 12, 2021

Landmark translocation of tigers to strengthen conservation efforts in western Rajaji.

Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand received two tigers from Corbett Tiger Reserve as part of an ongoing conservation effort to boost the tiger population in the western part of the Tiger Reserve (TR). The translocation was led by the Uttarakhand Forest Department in collaboration with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Wildlife Institute of India, and WWF India. These are the first translocations in Uttarakhand and are part of a recovery plan to re-establish a breeding population of tigers in the western part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve. Over the past decade, the Uttarakhand Forest Department has played a pivotal role and worked closely with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, WWF India and Wildlife Institute of India in creating enabling conditions for tiger recovery, including the translocation of tigers into the Rajaji Tiger Reserve.


The western part of the Tiger Reserve provides a tremendous opportunity to recover the tiger population, given that wild ungulates occur at high densities. Scientific modelling has indicated that with sustained recovery efforts involving habitat restoration, strengthened monitoring and patrolling, effective community engagement, and corridor management supported with translocation of a carefully selected breeding population of tigers, the western part of Rajaji TR and its surrounding forests could hold over 30 tigers. The plan is to translocate five adult tigers initially. The animals will be fitted with radio-collars and regularly monitored. This will help managers and conservationists to gain a better understanding of the range, territorial dynamics, ecology, and predatory behaviour of these individuals.


Prior to the translocations, tigers occupied 17 per cent of the habitat in the western part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, with photographic evidence suggesting the presence of just two females and no signs of breeding since 2006. Translocation of tigers was therefore considered a necessary step towards species recovery. Long term success will also require other actions such as restoring connectivity with eastern Rajaji via functional corridors, increasing protection, and having conflict management mechanisms in place.


 
Undoubtedly, this translocation heralds new hope for tiger conservation in the Terai Arc Landscape. The efforts of officials, conservationists, and the staff involved in the translocation of tigers and subsequent monitoring and protection will bear fruit when a viable tiger population persists in western Rajaji.