Buxa Reserve to get 12 Royal Bengal Tigers

Kolkata: The state Forest department is all set to fetch as many as 12 Royal Bengal Tigers in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in Alipurduar district of North Bengal in a bid to augment tiger population there. The tigers will be brought from the forest reserves in Assam, which have a similar flora and fauna as Buxa forest.
"The climatic conditions and the flora and fauna of Buxa matches with that of Assam. We have already written to the Assam government for procuring a dozen tigers. The introduction of these tigers will surely be an added attraction of BTR," state Forest minister Binay Krishna Barman said.
It is learnt that Buxa is one of the three forests in India where the National Tiger Conservation Authority has approved the tiger augmentation programme.
Sunderbans in South Bengal is home to about 100 tigers. However, the department has consciously decided not to bring tigers from the mangrove forest. "Sunderbans has a completely different mangrove ecosystem and it would have been difficult for the animals to survive in the climatic condition at Buxa if they were brought from there," Barman said.
The BTR is located close to Assam's Manas Tiger Reserve, and some experts believe that animals from Manas often come to Buxa using Bhutan as a corridor. The Buxa reserve is home to smaller cats such as leopards which occasionally surface in the tea gardens nearby.
There are also common clouded leopards, jungle cats and fishing cats. The herbivore list includes elephants, Indian gaur, chital, sambars, barking deer and hog deer.
The Forest department has decided to bring sambar and bison to the Buxa Tiger Reserve from other wildlife sanctuaries to boost the food chain ahead of the introduction of big cats in the BTR.
"A number of herbivores need to be present in Buxa for the food of the tigers. So, we have decided to bring in at least 50 sambars and a good number of bisons from Jaldapara National Park to the BTR," a senior Forest department official said.
The tiger reserve has an area of about 757.9 sq km, of which 390 sq km lies in the core area and 367 sq km in the buffer zone. The number of tigers in the Buxa reserve has been often debated by wildlife enthusiasts. While Forest Department officials claimed there were tigers in the reserve, almost no sighting of the big cats raised questions about their presence. The survey of tigers in 2011 based on DNA analyses put the number of tigers at 20.
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