THE STAKEAccording to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), in 2008, the forest landscape connecting Kanha and Pench tiger reserves is one of the four most viable tiger habitats in the country (the other three being the Western Ghats, Corbett and Kaziranga). This 16,000 sq km landscape has two source populations and a total of 141 tigers. This is also home to some of India’s most endangered species, such as Indian bison and dhols (Indian wild dog). Forest connectivity makes a landscape superior wildlife habitat, allowing animal movement and gene flow. In the absence of forest corridors, small tiger populations in isolated reserves face the risk of local extinction—either due to poaching in the short term or due to genetic decay over generations. Sariska is a prime example. The Kanha-Pench landscape thrives on its healthy contiguity. In isolation, the tiger population of about 30 at Pench is far from viable. The area of Pench tiger reserve (411 sq km) in itself is insufficient for a viable habitat. As per NTCA, a population is not viable below 80-100 tigers, and for such a population , at least 800-1,000 sq km of habitat is required. Clearly, the connectivity to Kanha (917 sq km, 89 tigers ) is key to keep the tiger population at Pench viable. The same is true for the other mega fauna in the area.