The Indian government has given its nod for creating buffer zones around Pench and Melghat tiger reserves in Maharashtra. The Pench tiger reserve in Nagpur district, which has a core area of 275 sq km has been equipped with a 500 km buffer zone. While the Melghat tiger reserve which has a total area of 2,300 sq km has been granted 1,268 km buffer zone.
The buffer zones have been notified in accordance with the 2006 amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which makes buffer zones mandatory for protected areas notified as Critical Tiger Habitats (CTH). Both the tiger reserves received CTH status in December 2007.
There are 40 inhabited villages in the buffer zone of the Pench tiger reserve and 118 villages in the buffer zone of the Melghat tiger reserve. “These villages will not be relocated. These villages will now see rapid development as funds received for wildlife conservation from the centre will be spent on their development,” said Alok Joshi, principle chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra.