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The Sariska Tiger Reserve is an Indian national park located in the Alwar district of the state of Rajasthan. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. This area was a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state and it was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. In 1978, it was given the status of a tiger reserve making it a part of India's Project Tiger scheme. The present area of the park is 866 km². The park is situated 107 km from Jaipur and 200 km from Delhi.
The area of Sariska, being a part of the Aravalli Range, is rich in mineral resources, such as copper. In spite of the Supreme Court's 1991 ban on mining in the area, marble mining continues to threaten the environment.
The best and the most attractive feature of the Sariska Tiger Reserve has always been its Bengal Tigers. This is the first ever Tiger Reserve in the world where the relocation of tigers has been done successfully, makes it one of a kind. The best part of the relocation is that these tigers adapted the place very quickly which is resulting in the growth of their population.
Apart from the Bengali Tiger, Sariska Tiger Reserve includes many wild-lives like leopard, jungle cat, caracal, striped hyena, golden jackal, chital, sambhar, nilgai, chinkara, four-horned antelope 'chousingha' (extinct),wild boar, hare, hanuman langur, Rhesus monkeys, and plenty of bird species and reptiles. Birds include peafowl, grey partridge, bush quail, sand grouse, tree pie, golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and the Great Indian Horned Owl.
The dominant tree in the forests is dhok (Anogeissus pendula). Other trees include the salar (Boswellia serrata), kadaya (Sterculia urens), dhak (Butea monosperma), gol (Lannea coromandelica), ber (Ziziphus mauritiana) and khair (Acacia catechu). Bargad (Ficus benghalensis), arjun (Terminalia arjuna), gugal (Commiphora wightii) or bamboo can also be met at some places. Shubs are numerous, such as kair (Capparis decidua), adusta (Adhatoda vesica) and jhar ber (Ziziphus nummularia).
The reserve is also the location of several sites of historical importance such as the 16th-century Kankwadi fort, originally built by Jai Singh II, is located near the centre of the park. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb briefly imprisoned there his brother Dara Shikoh in the struggle for succession of the throne. Pandupol in the hills in the centre of the reserve is believed to be one of the retreats of Pandava. Hanuman temple in Pandupol is a favourite pilgrimage site which is the source of problems to wildlife especially due to heavy traffic. Nilkanth temples were built by Bargujars. Neelkanth or Rajor Garh was the capital of Bargujars. Tal Briksh to the north is specials by its warm water spring. Bhartrihari, not far from the Sariska village, is crowded by pilgrims. The ruler of Ujjain, Raja Bhartrihari meditated at this place. The area also has buildings associated with the kings of Alwar such as the Sariska Palace, which was used as a royal hunting lodge of Maharaja Jay Singh.
In 2004, there were strong and persistent reports that no tigers were being sighted in Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. It was not only that tigers were not being seen but also and more alarmingly, there were no indirect evidence of the tigers' presence (such as pugmarks, scratch marks on trees, etc.) that are being found. The Rajasthan Forest Department took the stand that "the tigers had temporarily migrated outside the reserve and would be back after the rains". The Project Tiger, now National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), backed this assumption. There were some 16 tigers in the last years before. In January 2005, journalist Jay Mazoomdaar broke the news that there were no tigers left in Sariska. Soon the Rajasthan Forest Department and the Project Tiger Directorate declared an "emergency tiger census" in Sariska and the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's premier intelligence agency, conducted a probe. After a two month exercise they finally declared that Sariska indeed did not have any tigers left. Poaching was blamed to be one of the major reasons for the disappearance of tigers. 3 Tigers were re-introduced to Sariska Tiger Reserve and authorities planned to introduce two more by the end of the next year. According to researches, Sariska Tiger Reserve is likely to grow number of tigers to 16. Recently, two tiger cubs with their tigress mother were spotted in the reserve bringing the total number of tigers to seven with five adults.
In 2005, the Government of Rajasthan, in co-operation with the Government of India and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), planned the re-introduction of tigers to Sariska and also the relocation of villages. Some plans to construct by-pass roads were also there. However, it took several years to take more concrete steps. It was decided that one male and two female tigers from Ranthambore National Park are to be moved there. The Rajasthan forest officials rushed to fly two tigers from Ranthambhore in June–July 2008 ignoring recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Tiger Task Force. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) along with the Government of Rajasthan started tracking the relocated tigers with the help of ISRO's reconnaissance satellites. The first aerial translocation of the male tiger (Dara) from Ranthambhore to Sariska was done on 28 June 2008 by Wing Commander Vimal Raj of the Indian Air Force using a Mi-17 Helicopter and when the relocated tiger made its first kill in the enclosure there was a hope that tigers may adapt to the new environment in Sariska Reserve.
Only two of the four villages' experts had said needed to be relocated were actually moved, though the second, Kankwari, was shifted long after the tigers were re-introduced. However, Kankwari fort has been renovated by the state tourism department, which can possibly violate wildlife protection norms. The first relocated village was Bhagani. Also, the diversion of roads crossing the reserve, an issue critical to the survival of its wildlife, continues to be a problem.
One more tigress was shifted to Sariska from Ranthambhore in February 2009. Thus, the reserve had one tiger and two tigresses. On 28 July 2010, another tigress was brought here from Ranthambhore National Park. Thus, altogether five tigers — two males and three females — were dwelling in the reserve till November 2010 when the first relocated tiger died due to poisoning.
Unfortunately, the first three of the five so far relocated tigers came from one father. Moreover, the first two tigresses have the same mother. The breeding of close relatives leads to inbreeding.
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