PANAJI: The presence of the big cat in the state received a loud roar of official support, with the ministry of environment and forests considering the Goa stretch of the Western Ghats an important tiger corridor" between Anshi-Dandeli in Karnataka and the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, and confirming occupancy of tigers in the state's forests.
The findings-part of phase one of the study 'Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India 2010'-are based on data collected in 2009-10 from signs gathered by forest department officials and volunteers in the field. "The evidence on the ground usually covers everything from scats and pug marks to tiger kill," an environmentalist explained.
The report effectively stomps out the state forest department's past denial of the tiger's presence in Goa. Released on Thursday, the report considers the Western Ghats stretch from the Dang forests in Gujarat (including Goa) up to the Palakkad gap in Kerala as one of two corridors with the potential for contiguous tiger occupancy.
Though the exact number of big cats in Goa's forests can be further determined by using the camera trap method- which will be taken up in the third phase of the study and is yet to be started in the state-the report seriously considers the importance of Goa's link to the corridor.
It also refers to the better connectivity of Western Ghats tiger populations as compared to the same in central India and the Shivalik Gangetic plains landscapes, and finds that the habitat matrix in the Western Ghats is more conducive for tiger occupancy.
"However, the habitat connectivity is threatened by plantations, agriculture, industrial and infrastructural development," the report states. It calls for "timely effort to identify and legitimize the minimal corridors" which is needed for the conservation objective of ensuring gene flow between the Western Ghats tiger populations in times to come.