Dehradun, March 10
The gateway to Corbett National Park, Ramnagar, in the Kumaon division has yet again shot to notoriety being identified as one of the five hotspots in the country that are most prone to tiger poaching.

A report by TRAFFIC, wildlife trade monitoring network, and the WWF nomenclatured "Reduced to Skin and Bones Revisited" has identified Ramnagar in Uttarakhand along with Balaghat, Jabalpur, Sunderban and Satyamangalam as hotspots for tiger poaching activities in the country. Ramnagar town that is the main gateway to Corbett has being in thick of poaching activities for long.
With a population of around 70,000, Ramnagar township that has a large slum population has been in the limelight for anti-wildlife activities for past several years. Most of the population here is poor and the presence of the communities like kanjar, traditionally involved in anti-wildlife acts, is also significant. Even notorious poachers like Sansar Chand and Dariya had their bases in Ramnagar.
Interestingly, all commercial activities linked to wildlife tourism or other services for Corbett National Park take place in Ramnagar. The economy of Ramnagar is totally dependent on Corbett as the region is devoid of any employment opportunity. The sole livelihood option for Ramnagar inhabitants is getting some, full or part time work in Corbett. Thus unemployed get naturally inclined towards anti wildlife activities like felling of trees and poaching.
Tiger conservationist and Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, JN Vyas University, Jodhpur, Dr Hemsingh Gehlot, who worked in Ramnagar for several years in the past, attributes poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities forcing people, particularly the youth, taking to anti-wildlife activity in Ramnagar and adjoining areas.
"With tiger population thriving in Corbett and its territorial forest divisions like Ramnagar, miscreants find tiger an easy target to make fast money", Gehlot says.
Significantly, Ramnagar is also the gateway to Kumaon hills as it is the last township of the Terai belt when one starts ascending towards the hills. Ramnagar is also effectively linked to the national capital Delhi through the rail and road route and stands as most strategic area for poachers for acts of wildlife trafficking.
Tiger deaths in Ramnagar have been very frequent in recent years. Only last month, two tigers were found dead in the Ramnagar forest division with a tigress being found dead in the first week of March followed by the discovery of a dead cub tigress a few days ago. Though forest officials claimed that both deaths were natural, wildlife activists do not rule out role of human settlements in close vicinity in such anti-wildlife acts.

See More