The Rajasthan High Court has approved the relocation of a tiger to the Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) and has also paved way for the shifting of two tigresses from the Ranthambore National Park to MHTR.
The decision was rendered by a bench comprising Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Goverdhan Bardhar.
The court was hearing a petition filed by wildlife activist Ajay Shankar Dubey, seeking a direction to the state authorities to shift the tiger T-91 back to Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary from MHTR.
The petition had further demanded that the authorities be directed to allow the translocation of any other tiger from MHTR only after approval following the guidelines laid down by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
The petitioner had submitted that the State government had been granted “in-principle” approval by NTCA for shifting the tiger to the northern part of MHTR. He had then pointed out that the State had, however, shifted Tiger T-91 to the southern part of MHTR instead, which he said is “wholly illegal”.
He had alleged that the State had violated provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 by relocating the tiger to a newly established and underdeveloped tiger reserve, without satisfying the conditions laid down by the NTCA. He had further contended that neither was sufficient prey available in the southern part of MHTR where the tiger had been shifted nor had villagers been relocated from the area.
The court, however, observed that the Chief Wildlife Warden was competent to take the decision on the relocation of the tiger to the reserve. It further opined that it should not substitute the decision taken by the experts in the field and asserted that the relocation of the tigresses was necessary, observing,
“We see no reason for not permitting the respondents in going ahead with the implementation of the project of re-introduction/translocation of two female tigers, particularly when one male tiger is already there in the southern part of the MHTR. The shifting of two female tigers in the southern area in MHTR is also necessary for biological reasons for the male tiger, which strayed in RVWS and was captured and translocated to MHTR and is now alone there and for obvious reasons, may be under stress.
“Once the NTCA satisfied with the compliance submitted by the Chief Wildlife Warden and the State authorities, about various actionable points and recommendation, has restored the “in principle approval” and also granted “final approval” for re- introduction of two female tigers after one tiger has already been relocated in MHTR, taking another view of the matter by this Court would tantamount to substituting decision of the expert bodies in the field, which in the facts of the case, would be wholly uncalled for.”