Jaipur, April 11 (IANS) After Ranthambore and Sariska, Rajasthan will now boast of yet another tiger reserve. The state government has declared the Mukundra Hills a reserve for the conservation of the majestic cats, officials said Thursday.
"We have received the notification letter from the state government. The reserve area is spread over 759 square kilometres in four districts - Kota, Bundi, Chittorgarh and Jhalawar. About 417 square kilometres have been defined as the core tiger habitat, while an area of 342.82 has been notified as the buffer zone," a senior forest department officer told IANS.
Mukundra Hills is connected with the Ranthambore National Park, located in the state's Sawai Madhopur district.
In the two existing reserves in the state, Ranthambore has 50 majestic cats including 24 cubs, while Alwar's Sariska is home to nine tigers.
"The existing area in Ranthambore National Park is adequate for about 35-40 tigers. Four tigers have been killed in territorial fights in Ranthambore over the past four years. So the introduction of a new tiger reserve will ease the pressure from Ranthambore and boost tiger conservation in the state," the officer said, adding that the Ranthambore tigers already frequently stray into the Mukundra Hills, so extending the reserve area would allow them freer passage.
Four villages within the newly notified area will be shifted, the officer said.
The state government had earlier received the in-principle nod from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to declare Mukundra Hills a tiger reserve.
An annual working plan for the development and management of the newly notified reserve is still to be approved by the NTCA, the officer said.
"It may take about a year before the tigers are shifted to Mukundra," the officer said.