India’s protected areas rampantly downgraded to make room for people, industry

In India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh lie 500 square kilometers (200 square miles) of protected land demarcated as the Panna Tiger Reserve. The Reserve has the dubious distinction of becoming entirely bereft of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) in 2009, seemingly without anyone noticing, and then subsequently hosting a remarkably successful tiger reintroduction program.

While Panna has faced many battles since it was set aside as a tiger reserve in 1991, including the sheer embarrassment of being declared tiger-free (common consensus: rampant poaching, see suppressed facts), it could always rely on at least one thing on paper, if not in action: its status as a Protected Area. Recently, however, even that definition has been questioned and global-scale analyses show that Panna is far from being alone among India’s Protected Areas (PAs).

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This is the second part of a three-part series examining trends in Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement (PADDD). Read the first and third parts for a more comprehensive look at the issue.

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