Tiger population rises on the back of conservation efforts
There is reason for tiger enthusiasts to celebrate: India's wild tiger population has grown 12 per cent in the last four years.
According to the 2010 tiger census, whose results were declared on Monday, there are approximately 1,706 of the big cats in the country, which includes about 70 in the marshes of the Sunderbans, which have never been scientifically surveyed before. The 2006 census had estimated that there were 1,411 tigers, without including any from the Sunderbans.
Thirty per cent of the tiger population lives in areas outside the government's reserves, giving conservationists a new challenge in the effort to protect them.
The celebrations, however, were muted by the decrease in land area where tigers can thrive. “Tiger occupancy areas shrunk from 9 million hectares to less than 7.5 million hectares over the last four years,” said Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh. “This means that tiger corridors are under severe threat, especially in central India…in Madhya Pradesh and northern Andhra Pradesh.”
Not surprisingly, these are the two States that have fared the worst in the census, with tiger populations falling to 213 in Madhya Pradesh and 65 in Andhra Pradesh.
The largest number of tigers lives in Karnataka – about 280 – and conservation efforts have been successful in the entire Western Ghats area, with Tamil Nadu and Kerala also seeing good results. The Terai belt of grasslands at the Himalayan foothills in Uttarakhand have also done surprisingly well in nurturing their tiger populations.
While Kaziranga in Assam has 100 tigers, the largest in a single reserve, there are worrying signs from the North Eastern area. These forested hills are capable of supporting far more than the number of tigers that were found in the area, but poaching and the pressure of developmental activities have kept the numbers low.
Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Water Resources Minister Salman Khursheed flanked Mr. Ramesh as he announced the census results.
“We can deal with the threat of poachers, of the real estate and mining mafias, but it's much harder to deal with the developmental dynamic,” said Mr. Ramesh, pointing to energy projects — whether coal, hydel or nuclear — irrigation schemes, and highway proposals as among the developments endangering tigers and their ecosystem.
“A country of 1.4 billion cannot survive on solar, wind and biogas alone, so we do need commercial sources of energy, but we also need to conserve these forests,” he told Mr. Ahluwalia. “We must decide whether we can afford a 9 per cent growth agenda which would destroy our forests and the cultures and livelihoods that depend on them.” He added that river linking, hydel and irrigation projects could destroy the Panna, Buxa and Valmiki tiger reserves.
Tiger population rises 20% to 1,706
NEW DELHI: The 2010 tiger census, unveiled on Monday, raised some hopes for the future of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. Tiger population has seen a 20% increase over four years between 2006 and 2010. The All India Tiger Estimation puts the figure of tigers at 1,706. While these numbers would suggest that the previous decline in the number of tigers has been reversed, experts are not convinced. But, even if the increase in tiger population is not contested, what is worrying is the shrinking of the tiger habitat. In 2006, India's tigers occupied 93,600 square km; it is down to 72,800 square km in 2010.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh welcomed the rise as an "encouraging sign", but warned a sharp decline in the tiger-occupant areas was a "worrying development." Ramesh said the survey con-cluded that the amount of land occupied by tigers is shrinking, squeezing their living space, even as conservation efforts increase their numbers. "There is a decrease in tiger occupancy, which shows that tiger corridors are under biggest threat. The threat from poachers, international smuggling networks and powerful mining companies continue to pose threat to the endangered animal," Ramesh said.
The environment minister said that while "development" posed the "biggest" challenge, "difficult choices" have to be made. "There is a need for 9% economic growth and there is no dispute in that, but we have to reconcile growth with environment. We have to find a way to reconcile the growing appetite for energy with the imperative to protect our forests. Can we afford a 9% growth which means losing our forests? Choices have to be made," Ramesh said.
The previous enumeration undertaken in 2006 estimated the total number of tigers at 1,411. The latest census reveals a 12% increase in tiger population (1,580 tigers) in the area surveyed in 2006. The current census takes into account the 70 tigers in the Sunderbans, which had not been assessed in 2006. New areas in Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Assam were covered in the 2010 census. Several other areas outside tiger reserves and national parks were also reviewed for the first time. "Thirteen areas sampled this year had not been sampled in 2006. And they account for 288 tigers of the incremental 295 tigers. In that sense, there is no significant increase," a wildlife researcher said.
The trends put out by the environment ministry show that tiger population is stable in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Orissa, Mizoram, north West Bengal and Kerala. There is an increase in Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. While Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have registered a decrease in population.
Noted tiger expert K Ullas Karanth says, "Since full details are not yet available on how these numbers have been arrived at, it is not possible to give an expert opinion about the new numbers. However, since various threats faced by tigers do not appear to have diminished in last four years, it is difficult to explain the claimed reversal of the decline in the number of tigers tigers."
Phase one of the Rs 9.1-crore-tiger estimation project included collection of field data at beat level by trained personnel using a 'standardised protocol'. "In every beat, the officials had to walk at least 15 to 20 km a day to collect tiger habitation signs such as pug marks, scratch marks, their prey signs to assess the presence of the big cats," said Y B Jhala, senior wildlife biologist at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehra Dun.
Number of tigers up in Nilgiris
The population of tigers in the Nilgiris is showing a steady increase much to the cheer of foresters, wildlife activists and the public in the hills and it appears that the forest-rich district is on the road to becoming a land of tigers.
Officials attached to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) here, which became a tiger reserve in 2007, chose to be tight-lipped on the exact number of big cats as they were yet to receive official communication from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) which conducted the census.
Sources in the MTR administration said the tiger population in MTR and its buffer zone has been estimated to be around 50-56 in the recent census.
Apart from this, 10 tigers in Mukurthi national park and around 14 in other jungles in the district put the tiger population in the range of 75-80 in the Nilgiris which is higher than 40-45 during the last census in 2006.
Strict vigilance, forest policing, setting up of anti-poaching camps deep inside the jungles, forest intelligence, cooperation from the people living in the buffer zone are the reasons for the rise in the tiger population in the Nilgiris jungles.
The presence of Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Nagerhole forests in Karnataka and Waynad forests in Kerala, Sathyamangalam jungles on the foothills of the Nilgiris, all bordering the MTR, make Nilgiris a perfect landscape for the tigers to live in, the sources said.
However, Dr Rajiv K. Srivastava, MTR field director, away in New Delhi, said, “I came to know that the tiger population in MTR and its buffer zone is estimated to be around 50 to 56.”
At this point of time, I can only say that the tiger population has substantially increased in the Nilgiris. The exact number of big cats in the Nilgiris will be made known once the government nod is obtained to release the tiger census results,” he added.
Arrogant and Careless Madhya Pradesh dethroned from Tiger State Tag. Karnataka is now No 1 Tiger State
Its official now. Madhya Pradesh has been dethroned as the ‘Tiger State’. The State, after holding on the coveted tag for long has eventually lost it to Karnataka.
Adding insult to injury, Madhya Pradesh has registered decline in tiger habitat in the fresh tiger estimation results released by the MoEF on Monday.
In the Tiger Estimation 2010 results released by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on Monday, Madhya Pradesh has reported the presence of total 257 tigers with the upper limit of 301 and lower limit of 213. On the contrary, Karnataka has reported the presence of average 300 striped felines with the upper limit of 320 and lower limit of 280.
Madhya Pradesh with 300 tigers had maintained a slender margin over Karnataka in the last census in 2006, as the latter had reported 290 striped felines. However this time round, Karnataka has overhauled the deficit.
Not only this, the total area occupied by the tigers has shrunk significantly in Madhya Pradesh. In the last wildlife count in 2006, the striped cats had occupied 15,614 sqkm while the same has dwindled to 12,709 sqkm.
One thing, which has saddened the wildlife conservation activists and former forest officials from Madhya Pradesh, is MP is the State along with Andhra Pradesh, which has shown reversible trend in terms of tiger population across the country. The overall striped cat population has reached to 1,706 as against the petty figure of 1,411, whereas Madhya Pradesh has registered a steep decline in this regard.
Giving a little respite to Madhya Pradesh, the wildlife count has revealed that Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Madhav National Park in Shivpuri have emerged as the new habitats of tigers. Panna and Kanha tiger reserves have reportedly shown drastic decline in the numbers of striped felines from Madhya Pradesh.
Surprisingly, MP’s dethroning has failed to shock or surprise many, as most of the conservation activists saw it coming long back. “The Forest Department is doing the best what it could offer. Most of the forest officials nowadays behave like kings and do not bother to step out of their vehicles to physically monitor the wild animals as was the case earlier,” said Retd Chief Conservator of Forest PM Lad.
He added that personally he is not in favour of wildlife count in four years. “Normally a common man has a daily count of his family members and live stock, so why cannot the forest staff do the same,” said Lad.
Wildlife expert Raghu Chundawat who acted as the whistle blower for Panna debacle, said that it’s heartening that overall trend is encouraging but termed MP’s dethroning as a disappointing news. “In mid 1990s, tiger faced threat due to the demand of tiger bones and about a decade later the skins posed threat to the endangered felines,” said Chundawat. He added that threats keep changing but the question is weather we are prepared to thwart these challenges?
“It’s a shame on the Forest Department of Madhya Pradesh, who have betrayed the citizens of the State and have let us down in the ‘tiger figures’ as well as the status,” said wildlife volunteer Shehla Masood.
Reacting on the issue, State Forest Minister Sartaj Singh said that the matter would be inquired after receiving all the details and attributed the dethroning to the Panna debacle. He, however, expressed surprise over the reported drastic decline on big cats from Kanha, which is known for having sizable striped cat population.
Putting up a brave face the Minister said, “We may have lost the special tag but we will not leave any stone unturned to get it back.”
Maharashtra State : "Tiger numbers go up by 66 in state"
NAGPUR: In good news for wildlife lovers, the number of tigers in Maharashtra has gone up by 66 from 103 in 2006, to 169 in 2010. The results of 2010 national tiger assessment, conducted nationally every four years, were declared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) on Monday.
Four years ago, the NTCA had put the number of tigers in Maharashtra at 103 with a standard error range of lower and upper limit of 76-131. In 2010, it says there are 169 tigers in the state with a standard error of 160-196. The exercise to collect data in the state was conducted between January 27 and February 3 last year.
As per the scientific assessment, there are 69 tigers (66-74) in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) and its 2,610 sq km landscape. Melghat recorded 35 tigers (30-39) in 2,246 sq km; Sahyadri 21 (20-22) in 540 sq km; Nagzira-Navegaon 20 in 765 sq km; Bor 12 in 560 sq km; Pench (MP & Maharashtra) 65 (53-74) in 2,547 sq km; Kanha 60 (45-75) in 1,837 sq km; Bandhavgarh 59 (47-71) in 1,579 sq km and Satpuda-Bori 42 (42-46) in 1,541 sq km. This time figures in landscape of both Pench tiger reserves have been combined.
The increase in number of tigers has brought cheers to the officials and those demanding Nagpur to be declared tiger capital of the world. If the upper limit of the assessment is considered, the Central Indian landscape continues to maintain one-third of the tiger population of India and Nagpur is the fit case to be declared as tiger capital.
Experts said the increase in state tiger numbers is due to assessment for the first time in newly-declared Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR) in Western Maharashtra. STR comprises Chandoli National Park and Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2005, 16 tigers were recorded here. In 2010, there are 21 tigers. There are tigers in adjoining Radhanagri sanctuary too.
This time, the estimation was carried out in a bigger landscape. For example, in 2006, exercise was conducted in Melghat in 1,828 sq km and TATR in 775 sq km. This time, the census was done in more than 2,246 and 2,610 sq km in both the landscapes respectively.
Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) D C Pant said officials like CCF A K Saxena and ACF Kishor Mishrikotkar focused more on proper training and collection of data from 8,591 beats in 79 forest divisions in the state. Last time, as the staff was not trained properly, tiger numbers were not up to the mark.
"The success of tiger conservation goes to communities and field staff who are protecting tigers despite odds," Pant said.
A K Saxena, chief conservator (CCF) for Nagpur wildlife circle, said among other reasons, tiger tourism was not allowed to go beyond control here. "We ensured that nothing goes beyond the carrying capacity," Saxena said.
Maharashtra is among the five states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam and Uttarakhand where tiger numbers have increased. Madhya Pradesh, where tiger tourism has over-run, population has showed a decline.
However, experts say even if the increase in number of tigers must have come as a solace for the state forest department, the count is still down by 99 as compared to 2005, when presence of 268 tigers was recorded in the state.
The report says that tiger source populations of Melghat, Tadoba, and Pench need to be consolidated through enhanced protection and habitat management especially in forest areas surrounding these tiger reserves.
"This would increase the survival of dispersing tigers thereby increasing the tiger population and its effective source value. Interstate cooperation for management of Melghat and Pench is vital for the long-term survival of the Satpura and Maikal landscape tiger populations," it says.
Tamil Nadu : "More than 100% increase in Tiger numbers"
COIMBATORE: The big cats are making big strides in Tamil Nadu. At least 163 tigers are on the prowl in the jungles of Tamil Nadua more than 100% increase in the tiger population in the last four years.
In 2006, just 76 tigers were counted in Tamil Nadu. But the 2010 tiger census, which was released in New Delhi on Monday, showed that the population of tigers in the state has soared to 163.
"A minimum of 153 tigers and a maximum of 187 tigers could be roaming the forests of Tamil Nadu. But the medium estimate is that at least 163 tigers are living in Tamil Nadu jungles. This is a phenomenal increase in tiger population. Our conservation efforts have paid off," chief conservator of forests R Sundararaju told TOI. The most heartening tale in tiger conservation comes from Mudumalai and the adjoining forests stretching up to Sathyamangalam.
In Mudumalai Tiger reserve alone, camera traps had captured at least 39 tigers. And in all, at least a 100 tigers are estimated to be prowling the contiguous forests of Mudumalai Tiger reserve, Sigur plateau, Nilgiris, Moyyar valley and Sathyamanglam forests in western Tamil Nadu. "The Mudumalai-Moyyar belt has emerged as the key tiger habitat of Tamil Nadu,"says the forest official.
For the first time in tiger census history, cameras were placed in 100 places in Mudumalai and adjoining jungles to get visual evidence of the presence of the big cats.
"We have launched several initiatives from patrolling on elephants to involving the tribals in conservation," says Mudumalai Tiger Reserve field director, Dr Rajiv Srivatsava.
However, tiger experts in the country are sceptical about the tiger census figures and caution against complacency in tiger conservation. They argue that the census was carried out this time in new areas like the Sathyamangalam and Sigur plateau thus potentially providing a boost to the tiger figures. In the 2006 census, the camera traps were placed and pug marks of tigers were lifted only in the tiger reserves of Mudumalai and Anamalai tiger reserve in western Tamil Nadu and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai in southern Tamil Nadu.
"There is no need for complacency in tiger conservation...For we do not know how scientific these data are," K Ullas Karanth, a tiger expert and director of Centre for Wildlife Studies.
The census has shown a 16% increase in tiger population in the country. "The census has shown an increase of 16% compounded over 4 years, suggesting that the previous decline has been reversed...Since various threats faced by tigers do not appear to have diminished in the last four years, it is difficult to explain the claimed reversal of the decline of tigers," says Dr Karanth.
However, wildlife conservationists in Tamil Nadu agree that the tiger habitats are increasing and that the tiger population is "holding if not drastically increasing".
The World Wide Fund has spotted 51 tigers in the Sathyamangalam-Moyyar-Sigur belt in the camera traps.
Increase in tiger population should lead to stepped-up vigil in conservation, say wildlife activists. For the presence of considerable number of tigers could draw poachers to the western forest fringes of Tamil Nadu.
"In Western Tamil Nadu alone, 120 tigers are said to be on the prowl. Unless we increase the patrolling and keep the poachers away, we cannot save these big cats," says K Kalidasan of OSAI, a wildlife NGO based in Coimbatore.
Forest official disputes tiger census figures
HYDERABAD: There was a dispute over the number of tigers at the Nagarjuna-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) in the 2010 tiger census. While the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) put the tiger population at the reserve between 53 and 66, K Tulsi Rao, head, biodiversity research, Project Tiger, Srisailam, claimed that the number of cats in NSTR would be around 100.
While agreeing that there was a decline in the number of tigers in the state due to poaching and shrinking of their habitat, Tulsi attributed the rise in tiger population in NSTR to ertain measures introduced by his department.
The NTCA has given a bleak picture of the tiger population in the state. It said that AP and Madhya Pradesh were the only states in the country that have shown decline in tiger population. While giving no figures for the East and West Godavari districts, Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram the census claimed that there were only five tigers in the districts of Adilabad, Warangal, Karimnagar and Khammam.
According to forest department officials, the tiger population rose from 102 in 2008 to 106 in 2009.
The figures released by the forest department in 2009 had put the number of tigers in NSTR at 72 as against 65 in 2008. The remaining 24 tigers were spread over other sanctuaries.
Commenting on the present situation Rao said, "At NSTR we have introduced special measures. Chenchus were roped in to act as tiger trackers. They are also protecting them."
Rao, who is also the deputy conservator of forest, put the number of tigers in NSTR at 100, including cubs. "We have captured 25-30 cubs on camera, claimed Rao.
Centre estimates Sunderbans tiger count at 70
The numbers game in Sunderbans is a history now, and so is the myth of 276 number of big cats in Indian part of this mangrove land as per a census report by the state in 2003-04.
The tiger census report presented by the Union ministry of forests and environment on Monday has finally put an end to the numbers mystery in Sunderbans. The report has estimated tiger density in Sunderbans at around 4.3 per 100 square kilometres. And taking into account the 1600 square kilometres land area of 2585 sq km Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, one doesn't need a mathematician to say the number of big cats in this World Heritage Site hovers around 60-70 only. Though the report has estimated the average number of tigers in this mangrove land at 70, it has kept the lower limit at 64 and the upper limit at 90.
So, where have around 200 tigers gone in seven years? Or was the 2003-04 tiger census a complete farce?
"276 tigers never existed in Sunderbans. We have been raising the issue since last few years, but the West Bengal government was not ready to accept this," said noted tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar. However, the state has little to offer on the Centre's report. "We haven't yet gone through the report. We can't comment on it," said S B Mondal, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife).
It may be noted that TOI had earlier reported on lower prey base and longer home range of Sunderbans tigers, which don't suggest a healthy tiger density in this mangrove land.
"Survival of prey depends on the ecology and Sunderbans' marshy climate and less grassland don't support a good prey base, which in turn means less tiger density," said Thapar. According to him, humans have become a supplementary diet to the tigers left in Indian Sunderbans.
Tushar Kanjilal, a well-known social worker, who spent long years in Sunderbans has his take. "Prey base is definitely shrinking, but the estimation of 70 seems to be too less. There was always an imbalance between prey and tigers in Sunderbans. But going by the locals and rising incidents of straying, I think tiger population has risen," he said. Mondal added that the Centre had followed sign survey method to give the estimation. "Even this method is not error free. Sighting of tigers has definitely gone up in Sunderbans."
However, Belinda Wright, executive director of Wildlife Protection Society of India said low prey base, triggered by the habitat and poaching in Sunderbans, can't support good tiger density.
Quoting a study by Dr Ullas Karanth and George Schaller, Wright said: "A full-grown wild tiger needs to eat 50 cheetals per year to survive. And a block of 500 cheetals are required to provide a sustainable outcome of 50 cheetals per tiger. In other words, 500 cheetals can provide a single tiger, 50 cheetals per year for food." Going by this theory, Sunderbans has to have over 1 lakh cheetals to sustain a tiger population of 276. "It's almost become hard to spot a deer in Sunderbans nowadays compared to other tiger reserves in the country. This way too, the state's claim stands no where," added Thapar.
Though the number of 276 received severe thrashing from various fronts, funds never ran dry for Sunderbans. In 2010-11, Sunderbans received a whopping Rs 514.85 lakh from the Centre under Project Tiger' scheme. Even tiger reserves like Nagarhole (Karnataka), Ranthambore (Rajasthan) and Kaziranga (Assam) received less funding with the figures at Rs 294 lakh, Rs 326 lakh and Rs 448 lakh respectively. According to Thapar, the Bengal government must concentrate on proper utilisation of funds, else the entire exercise would go in vain.
Some wildlife enthusiasts see silver lining in the new numbers. "One should not get demoralised with the numbers. This is just an estimation and in terrain like Sunderbans, it's very hard to give a correct estimation. There is a broader perspective to the issue and that's protection of the big cats," said Joydip Kundu of Sanctuary Asia.
Meanwhile, tiger population in India has risen by almost 20% in three years. According to the census report, the estimated population of big cats in the country is at 1706, up from 1411 in 2008. Ministry sources said more areas including the Sunderbans were counted this time. Northeast Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains has recorded almost 48% rise in tiger population in the new estimation. Population estimation of tigers in this region stands at around 148, compared to about 100 in the last census.
48% rise in tiger population in North East India
NEW DELHI, March 28 – The rate of increase in the population of tiger in the North-east has surpassed the national estimate, with the region marking a 48 per cent increase against the all India average of 12 per cent. Population of the big cat has reached 143 in Assam, while in the rest of the North Eastern States, the population has remained stable.
The tiger population in the country has risen to 1706 compared to 1411 in 2006 – a 12 pc increase that excludes the big cats of Sundarbans, the latest Tiger Census said.
In comparison, the tiger population in the hills of North-east and Brahmaputra Flood Plains has increased to 148 from 100 recorded in 2006. Tiger Census is held every four years.
Thanks to the conservation efforts, the population has marked an increasing trend in Assam. Mizoram, the population of the endangered species has remained stable. Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are the two States where the population of tigers has decreased.
According to the latest estimate, the total area occupied by tigers in Assam has increased to 2206 sq km from 1164 sq km in 2006. In Mizoram, the population of the big cat has remained stable at five, while there was no data available for Arunachal Pradesh.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, however, waved the red flag, pointing out that the tiger population in the North-east was a matter of concern, while nationwide the over-all scenario was grim. In Assam, the famous Manas National Park has poor tiger density, the Minister said.
Ramesh was releasing the All India Tiger Estimation Exercise for 2010 here this afternoon in presence of Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Union Minister for Water Resources, Salman Khursid.
The census was released at the inaugural session of the three-day International Tiger Conference on Monday. The international conference on tiger conservation and global workshop on implementation of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) is being addressed by vice president of World Bank, Isabel Guerrero, besides MP, former chairman of the Task Force for creating Project Tiger, Dr. Karan Singh.
The Minister further said that hydropower and irrigation projects posed a major threat to tiger conservation. He cited the example of hydropower projects in Bhutan, which have impacted tiger corridors in India.
Referring to Arunachal Pradesh, the Minister underlined the need to protect the biodiversity in the State, where maximum number of hydropower projects are coming up.
Earlier, releasing the ‘India Tiger Estimate 2010’ Jairam Ramesh said “the mid-point range” of tigers in the country is 1706. The previous census in 2006 did not cover Sundarbans
“This figure at 1636 is a 12 per cent increase of 1411 and is welcome news,” Ramesh said, admitting that there have been higher than normal tiger mortality figures in 2009 and 2010.
“The most positive news has been reported from Naxal-affected Nagarjuna Sagar Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh. We have estimated the number of tigers there to be 60,” the Minister said.
There is positive news from other Naxal-affected reserves including Indravati (Chattisgarh), Simlipal (Orissa), Valmiki (Bihar), Palamau (Jharkhand), he said.
India currently has 39 tiger reserves, representing around one-third of the country’s high density forest area.
The new finding of the 2010 National Tiger Assessment is that most of tiger source sites continue to maintain viable tiger population. There was evidence of new areas populated by tigers like Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Shivpuri National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The assessment also points out that the area occupied by tigers outside protected areas has gone down considerably, highlighting the need for securing corridors for tigers to move between source sites.
Tiger occupancy area has shrunk by 20,000 sq km
NEW DELHI: There's good news and bad news on the tiger front. The tiger census has shown a 16% rise in cat count. At the same time, highlighting the continuing threat to the animal, the report says tiger habitats across the country declined by about 20,000 sq km. These were mainly areas outside the protected forests.
Y V Jhala of Wildlife Institute of India , who presented the report, said, "The tiger population range for 2010 is between 1,571 and 1,875 with an average of 1,706. The monitoring was done between 2009 and 2010. In 2006, the estimate was 1,411. The population analysis system was new in 2006 and we were not very confident of the numbers thrown up then.
However, the system has been adapted well and this year we are confident that we have a more scientific picture before us," he said.
New areas that have become populated include Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary and Shiv National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The report said most source populations of tiger were stable within protected areas. Even outside protected areas, numbers went up in Moyar-Sigur, Sathyamangalam, Ramnagar and Pilibhit.
Tiger numbers are threatened in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. These includes the much-debated Panna tiger reserve where the local population was wiped out and three animals had to be translocated.
Kanha and Pench have also seen a decline with numbers dropping in Kanha. Pushing for an increase in allocations for tiger conservation in the supplementary budget, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said: "Central India has had the most losses. Significant areas where numbers have come down include northern Andhra Pradesh, Adilabad-Khaman, east Godavri, Hoshangabad and Kanha."
Another serious issue addressed in the census is the decline in tiger occupancy areas. From 93,600 sq km it has come down to 72,800 sq km. Most were outside protected areas. "We have 39 reserves and about 30% of our total tiger population is outside these reserves. This demands urgent attention and the need to identify tiger corridors and conservation plans," said Ramesh.
Tiger population declines in AP
March 28: While neighbouring Karnataka is rejoicing, Andhra Pradesh got a bad report card with the census revealing that there has been a decline in tiger population in north Andhra Pradesh. Other than AP, Madhya Pradesh too has shown a decline in the big cat population.
“The single largest concentration of tigers in the world is now to be found in the triangle of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Karnataka leads with 320 estimated tigers and India today has 60 per cent of the world’s tigers,” the Union minister for environment and forests, Mr Jairam Ramesh, said.
The Adilabad (including the Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary) and Khammam belt has only five tigers and there were no tigers reported in the East-West Godavari and Visakhapatnam belt, stated the census. State officials, however, disagreed that there were no tigers in East-West Godavari and Visakhapatnam belt.
The only positive news for AP was that the tiger population had increased in Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve where the numbers have gone up to 60 and the range is estimated to be 53-66. As the Nallamala, which forms the NSTR, was sanitised of Maoists almost three years back, the forest officials were able to take some protective measures, which resulted in an increase in the tigers population by seven.
In 2008, it is was estimated that there were around 53 tigers in the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, the largest in India, and in the adjoining forests of Kurnool, Prakasam, Kadapa, Mahbubnagar and Guntur districts. “The most positive news has been reported from the naxalite-affected NSTR in AP where the number of tigers has gone up to 60,” said Mr Ramesh.
The census states that East Godavari and Visakhapatnam, which had tigers in 2006, are now devoid of the big cats. The chief wildlife warden, Mr Hitesh Malhotra, who was in Delhi for the release of the census numbers said, “There is no clarity for us on the numbers. They are not showing tigers in Visakhapatnam and East and West Godavari belt. This may not be the case as we have some data to show that there are tigers there.”
In 2008, it was estimated that in Adilabad, there were 19 tigers with a range of 17-34. In the Karminagar-Warangal-Khammam belt, there were around 12 tigers ranging from 10-14. In the Khammam-East Godavari-Visakhapatnam belt, there were an estimated 11 tigers ranging from 9-13.
On a country-wide scenario, the census indicated that the Shivalik-Gangetic plains have 353 tigers, central India and the Eastern Ghats have 601 tigers, Western Ghats have 534, the North East hills and Brahmaputra floodplains 148 and the Sunderbans have 70. The tigers at Sunderbans were not counted in the last census.
Mr Ramesh said that while some sanctuaries including Corbett and Ranthambhore were hitting the limit of their carrying capacity, those in the north east remained below carrying capacity levels. He also warned that close to 30 per cent of the tiger population was outside the tiger reserves. “We spend all our time and energy on the 39 tiger reserves but we don’t have a strategy to deal with tigers outside these reserves,” he said.