- In Madhya Pradesh, Panna Tiger Reserve, which once saw its entire tiger population disappear, has now been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
- Once home to 40 tigers, hunters and poachers took down all but two tigresses by 2009.
- After the crisis, officials have rekindled the population to 54 tigers with the help of locals and non-profit organisations.
declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that will explore innovative ways to achieve eco-conservation and sustainability.
According to the United Nations (
UN), a biosphere reserve is where the international agency tries to reconcile the differences between human activity and the preservation of biodiversity. Every year, the status of UNESCO sets a few new sites that will come under its umbrella of Biosphere reserves, while others are removed.
This year India’s Panna Tiger Reserve, which spans 576 kilometers in Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh, was among the few to be selected.
“With only three urban centres and over 300 villages, agriculture is the main source of income, together with horticulture, forestry, and cultural and eco-tourism,” said
UNESCO in its description of the reserve.
Panna National Park to Tiger Reserve
The Panna ‘National Park’
was initially set up in 1981. It only received the status of a tiger reserve in the early 1990s under “Project Tiger.”
Once it had been converted into a tiger reserve, the population of tigers started to bloom. By the early 2000s, the reserve managed to nurture and grow 40 tigers.
However, in a drastic change of events, the tiger population suddenly started to dwindle with hunters and poachers scouring the grounds. In 2009, Panna Tiger Reserve
sent shockwaves across the country when it revealed that there were no tigers left within its territory — only two tigresses.
Going from zero tigers to 54
As a result of the 2009 crisis, the forest department faced a massive backlash. The Madhya Pradesh government then set up a committee to investigate the matter and recommended transferring every forest official at the reserve.
However, former IFS officer R Sreenivasa Murthy and Director of Panna
reserve opposed the move. Instead, Murthy and his team started implementing a tiger reintroduction programme and roped in locals and non-profit organisations to help.
Within a year, the first litter of cubs was born in Panna Tiger Reserve after they translocated both tiger and tigress from a national park. Ten years down the line, the Panna Tiger Reserve
is home to 54 tigers.
Apart from Panna Tiger reserve, several other sites in the Maldives, Mongolia,
There are currently 701 biosphere reserves across the world, located in 124 countries, which form the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
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