Rajasthan to constitute panther conservation panel

Rajasthan to constitute panther conservation panelJaipur, Jan 30 : Concerned over the rise in panther deaths, Rajasthan will soon constitute a committee for their conservation and develop a separate territory for these big cats in the state's Sariska Tiger Reserve, officials said Wednesday.

"The forest department is setting up a panther conservation committee comprising of wildlife experts and officials that will chalk out a plan for their safety in the reserve," a senior forest department official told IANS.

The conservation panel will ensure that panthers are provided the same kind of protection as is given to the tigers in the reserve in Alwar district, some 150 km from here.

"A separate area will be developed for panthers, so that they can roam safely," the official said.

The decision was taken in the wake of recovery of an eight-year-old panther's mutilated carcass in the Malala forest range near the Sariska Tiger Reserve Sunday.

The official said a probe has been launched into the panther's death and that an autopsy found that the animal died of head injuries.

"In the past, there had been some incidents where panthers were killed by poachers in Sariska. In the census conducted in 2010, the number of panthers in the reserve was tagged at 45," the official said, adding that the latest death has left the government worried.

In March last year, the body of an eight-year-old panther was found with its neck entangled in a trap set up by poachers.

The Sariska Tiger Reserve is home to nine tigers.

In 2004-05, the forest department and the Rajasthan government faced all-round criticism over the disappearance of tigers from Sariska.

The Sariska reserve, originally a hunting preserve of the erstwhile princely state of Alwar, was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. It got the status of a national park in 1979. (IANS)

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