SARISKA TIGER RESERVE, ALWAR, RAJASTHAN, INDIA.

Making a comeback.

On a late summer day, a young Sambur stag, peers through a transparent veil of dusty air with inquisitive eyes as vehicles stop to catch a rare glimpse. Dense jungle vegetation layered on rugged Aravali terrain once made this tiger reserve a sanctuary for the stag’s natural predator: the Bengal tiger. Till it suffered one of the worst fates that can befall a National Park.

In a single swift stroke Sariska lost all of its original Bengal tiger population to mass poaching (see website of the journalist who exposed the tragedy: Jay Mazoomdar), severely tarnishing the reputation of a country’s ability in protecting its own national animal and finally, taking the Prime Minister to step in and turn things around.

Now with beefed up security measures and re-introduction programs, authorities are determined to repopulate the area and put in place defences to prevent the past from reoccurring. Newly introduced tigers roam the reserve with radio collars around necks letting conservationists and forest wardens track their movements. Re-allocation of ancient villages located deep within the reserve is an ongoing process to provide the wildlife a wider berth and less contact with humans.

Proximity of the highway with its share of road kills is a difficult problem yet to be addressed. None the less both authorities and conservationists with fingers crossed are hoping for a brighter future for the residents of the jungle, specially its big cats.