TNN NAGPUR: Finally, after five years, the unified control of 666.54 buffer zone of Pench Tiger Reserve has been brought under the control of the Field Director (FD) of the Tiger Reserve.

The buffer zone of Pench was notified on September 29th, 2010. However, it was not taken over by the Pench Field Director owing to staffing problems. The zone includes the 182.58 Mansinghdeo wildlife sanctuary, 116 area of Nagpur territorial division, 89.70 area of Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) and 96.54 of non-forest land.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was amended in 2006 to bring the buffer zones around tiger reserves under the control of Field Directors. This was prompted by crisis in Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan where the entire tiger population was wiped out in 2005.

However, FD control of the Pench buffer continued to remain only on paper due to staffing problems. In addition to the 23 forest guards and three foresters from Nagpur division posted last year, RFOs (Range Forest Officers) have now also been posted and the main problem of staffing the area seems to have now been solved.

Unified control – bringing with it two additional ranges, Paoni and Nagalwadi - has now been taken over by the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) and Field Director MS Reddy.

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