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26.10.10

Coming as a major setback to tiger conservation in Madhya Pradesh, the Panna tiger reserve will not have the glory of enjoying a buffer zone for the tigers.

Buffer zones are vital as they allow tigers more space to move freely. The decision by the Chief Minister has come as a shock for many and people are reading between the lines for its inherent meaning.

"Humans are more valuable than tigers. One cannot destroy Panna and let just tigers survive. What will they do with such a buffer zone? That is why there is no need for a buffer zone that can cause problems to Panna. No such buffer zones will be made,"said Shivraj Singh Chouhan the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

The decision has come just weeks after the Pench and Kanha reserves in Maharashtra were given its notified buffer zones.  
In the last decade, Panna has lost 34 tigers, most of them being poached. Under such circumstances ignoring the desperate need of a buffer zone for the tiger reserve has shocked all.

Surprisingly, Chouhan's remarks have come at a time when the forest department has got the consent of 45 of the 69 villages in the proposed buffer zone. Sources say, several local political heavyweights and their associates have a stake in mines in the area under the buffer zone and a notification may stop all that.

Could the Chief Minister's decision have more to do with the mining stakes involved?

"The people who are exposing it is because of lack of understanding or they have rights in ways of illegal mining or extracting wood or maybe some other sources," said Shamendra Singh a Former member of the Madhya Pardesh Wildlife Advisory Committee.

Even as the Wildlife Act makes a buffer zone mandatory for every tiger reserve, the Chief Minister vetoing it in Panna has raised several questions. The concern now is that who will prevail finally? Until then, the fate of Panna remains hanging.

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