By Faisal Mohammad Ali
BBC News, Bhopal
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One of India’s main tiger parks – Panna National Park – has admitted it no longer has any tigers.
The park, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, was part of the country’s efforts to save the famous Royal Bengal Tiger from extinction.
State Minister of Forests Rajendra Shukla said that the reserve, which three years ago had 24 tigers, no longer had any.
A special census was conducted in the park by a premier wildlife institute, after the forest authorities reported no sightings of the animals for a long time.
This is the second tiger reserve in India, after Sariska in Rajasthan, where numbers have dwindled to zero.
Officials from the wildlife department say there is no “explicable” reason for the falling number of tigers.
But a report prepared by the central forest ministry says Panna cannot be compared with Sariska because “warning bells were sounded regularly for the last eight years”.
The report says wildlife authorities failed to see the impending disaster despite repeated warnings, and lost most of Panna’s big cats to poaching.
While this controversy rages, there have been reports that another national park in Madhya Pradesh, Sanjay National Park, which was included in the tiger project three years ago, also has no tigers left.
The park had a population of 15 tigers until the late 1990s.
Of the more than 1,400 tigers in the country, 300 dwell in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which is also called the “tiger state of India”.