Three years back, the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh had close to 40 tigers. Today, one two tigers exist, not the original striped denziens of the forest, but two tigresses translocated from Kanha and Badhavgarh. It simply means that all the resident tigers have been wiped out. With poachers having a field day all these years, the tiger had no chance whatsover. What is more galling is the state governments apathy and total denial on the sordid state of affairs.
Just imagine. In 2008, the state principal chief conservator of forests had claimed in an environmental magazine that Panna was teeming with the country’s national animal. The denial and the charade survived till a tiger survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) just managed to zero in one tiger only.
The final nail on the denial coffin happened this month, when a special investigation team, headed by former chief of Project Tiger P K Sen, conducted an in-camera enquiry that established that Panna had no tigers. Left with no alternatives, the state forest minister has confirmed this sad fact bringing to end a saga of shameful proportions.
Where are we headed now? Sariska then. Panna now.. What next?