A beautiful, dense Sal forest, invitingly snuggled in north-east Uttar Pradesh bordering with Nepal, Dudhwa National Park is surely a sight for sore eyes, yet, like, most Protected Areas today, there's more to it than meets the eye. Amidst all its glory, it has its share of rather inglorious problems.

The decline in tiger population is alarming ('Feline worries', March 9). Poachers will not rest till the last of the big cats is killed and its parts are sold in the market. Such is their greed.

With the tiger fighting a losing battle for survival in the wild, here is the story of one man's resolve to see the royal beast in its natural habitat. Sought-after prize of tourists: A tigress at the Ranthambore Park. Tales of all-eluding tigers are perhaps the most swapped stories among eco-tourists. I remember sharing tables and travel stories with complete unknowns at a non-descript coffee house in Kolkata a year and a half back. Those were the days when the realisation that there existed fine demarcations between travellers also had not dawned on me. On that table that day, I understood that I was a cultural traveller

In order to savour our natural heritage, it is high time to save it, but it is not for the Forest Departments of the states who are the custodians alone to handle this delicate business, especially due to the red tape and other pressures inherent in the govt set up and system of working where their hands are tied.

Shivalik-Gangetic plains Among the most important tiger ranges with a high density of 297 tigers over 5,177 sp km. Uttarakhand has 178 tigers, UP 109, Bihar 10 Total: 297 Highlight: The only demographically viable population in Northwestern India. The Corbett tiger reserve alone has an estimated population of 164 tigers spread over 1,524 sq km. The tiger census suggests a buffer zone of 1,000 sq km for Corbett. The tiger has become locally extinct in 29 per cent of the region's districts Potential tiger habitat: 20,800 km Challenges:

Let the numbers spur action


The tiger census in the country shows alarming decline in the number of tigers in India. With their total population winding up at 1411 with a 17.43 per cent coefficient of variation, the ministry has decided to take substantial steps. "The Tiger Project explained that the tiger has suffered due to direct poaching, loss of quality habitat and loss of prey,' said Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the project, while making a presentation in the capital today. "But there is still hope.'

India has lost more than 50 per cent of its tiger population in the past five years with the numbers dwindling to 1,411 from 3,642 in 2001-02, according to the latest tiger census report. The "State of tiger, co-predators and prey in India' report, released here on Tuesday, said there had been an overall decrease in the tiger population except in Tamil Nadu where the numbers have gone up substantially from 60 in 2001-02 to 76.

Bali Island, Feb. 11: British high commissioner Richard Stagg yesterday inaugurated a mangrove project in the Sunderbans to combat global warming in the tiger reserve. The British deputy high commission in Calcutta, in collaboration with an NGO, will develop the mangrove forest along half a square kilometre of the riverbank in Bali Island, 200km from Calcutta. The deputy high commission is funding the project, estimated to cost around