The state forest department is exploring possibilities to develop more zones for tourism at Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR). The famed reserve now gives access to only 5 per cent of the area for safaris. Many stakeholders have pointed out that there are no safari zones in STR where big cats inhabit. As part of it, the department has already started work on a 17km protection route for effective monitoring.

According to STR Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), R N Meena, proposals to develop new routes will be tabled before the local advisory committee (LAC) soon. During a recent visit, a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) official has also given in-principle approval to open new routes. We have developed monitoring routes before we open safari routes.”

As per NTCA norms, a maximum 20 per cent of the core/critical tiger habitat can be used for regulated tourism. In Sarisak, there are many tigers in Talvriksha range, but there are no safari and monitoring zones. “The park is in close proximity of the NCR and more zones should be opened to reap the benefits,” said another forest official.

The reserve is spread across an area of 1,281 sq km and is divided into six ranges. Though the tiger population has increased to 23, sightings are considerably poor. A source in the forest department said, “At present, there are only three zones at STR. There are times when tigers are not sighted for a week.” STR, once infamous for poaching, has scripted a remarkable success story in tiger conservation with five cubs born in the park this year.