Wildlife lovers have been considerably cheered by the heartening news of the latest tiger trends in the country.
It was reported that 30 per cent of tigers are thriving outside the Protected Areas. This is true of Karnataka, too, where 30 per cent of the areas outside the Tiger Reserves have registered tiger movements.
Tiger presence has been noted in areas like Karwar, Honnavar, Sirsi, Sharavathi valley, Shettyhalli in Shimoga, Bheemgad forests in Belgaum, Kudremukh and Madikeri, during the 2010 census.
These forest patches where tiger movements have been reported, lack the full-fledged protection the five tiger reserves of the state enjoy: adequate manpower, a regular salary for forest staff and stricter laws to protect the habitats of big cats. All these are applicable to Anashi-Dandeli, Bhadra, Bandipur, Biligiri Rangana Temple and Nagarhole tiger reserves.
Explained a forest official, “The census report shows that a minimum of 30 per cent of forest outside the tiger reserves, have tiger populations. Significantly, Aganashini Valley has reported movement of a breeding tiger and such reports call for urgent protection of these areas. Then, the news of tiger spotting in Kudremukh is nothing exceptional since the forest patch is all set to become the sixth tiger reserve of the Tiger State.”
But there are a number of areas such as Honnavar and Karwar, where protection is required for the big striped cats, since these forested areas are suffering from human encroachment.
“Every year large patches of forest land is diverted for various reasons, but this is unacceptable when it comes to saving tigers’ habitats. Merely declaring these ‘Tiger Reserves’ will not eradicate the danger to the tiger. In Karnataka, the tigers are more threatened by people living on the forest fringes or in the forests, than by any poaching,” explained a conservationist.
Though the state of Karnataka stood first in the list of tiger states in the country which have 300-plus tigers, the forest department officials claim that tiger numbers in this state could be higher than reported by the Wildlife Institute of India from Dehradun, which conducted the tiger census in 2010.
“We also doubt the veracity of the reported sudden increase of 80 tigers in Tamil Nadu. There are reports that tigers from Bandipur, who make routine visits to the adjoining Mudumalai forests in TN, have been recounted by the forest officials. This has led to an abrupt increase in reported TN tiger numbers. Actually the state has registered a rise in tiger numbers by a dozen,” the official said.