“Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India”, an awesome statement by our Environment Minister on the International Day of the Tiger. Well, only the time will tell if this statement is proven right or not by 2022. But his intention is loud, and clear. But is this just a comment by a minister? I don’t think so. It is scientifically possible to double the Tiger population. All that is required is WILL by the Government. Everyone knows that the Tiger is a fast breeding cat. All we need to provide is inviolate habitat and the Tigers will take care of the rest.
Tourism friendly policies are being initiated in the national parks of Madhya Pradesh. This signifies that Tiger Tourism is being recognized as an important conservation tool. Synergizing tourism and forest department work will have beneficial impact on the Tiger population. But it has to be responsible tourism. Besides, tourism generates extra revenue for the local community as well.
The Goverment has red flagged the Rio Tinto project in Panna. This was a big diamond mining project scheduled to come up at Bunder. The revenue involved here was to the tune of Rs 20000 crores. Reason why this project has been stalled is that it would have cut the corridor link between Panna with Nauradehi. While this corridor is not of a Kanha-Pench corridor quality, nevertheless it has presence of a Tigress with cubs. This directly implies that it is a critical Tiger habitat.
To say that future of Tiger conservation lies in the corridors will not be wrong. A corridor is a life line of a national park for healthy transfer of gene pool. With more such decision in future, Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India is a reality.
Six Tigers to be shifted from Chandrapur district in Maharashtra to Sahyadri reserve. This will increase the Tiger numbers in the Sahyadari which currently has a low density of Tigers. The Tigers to be shifted are the ones outside the core zones, susceptible to being poached and engage in man-animal conflict. Hence an excellent step being taken to ensure Tiger populations double by 2022.
A male Tiger has been shifted from Ranthambhore to Sariska. The male to female ratio in Ranthambhore is currently about 50-50. The ideal male to female ratio is 1:1.4. Extra males in an area leads to in-fighting, and fatal injuries. By shifting a male Tiger to Sariska it improves the ratio in Ranthambhore and Sariska both. Apparently in Sariska the male to female ratio was more in favor of females. So, twin benefits with a single stroke. Yet another wise step to ensure Tiger Population to double by 2022 in India. Something like this has never been done in the past. The thought process and action on these lines is a good beginning.
Wildlife Institute of India has done a research in Phen wildlife sanctuary recently. The study found Phen to be a good habitat for Tigers. 18 different Leopards were also caught in the camera traps. Tiger pug marks were also documented in the area. But they realized that the Tiger does not stop in Phen. The tiger comes here nad moves onwards to Chattisgarh or return to Kanha. Most likely this was due to lack of prey and grasslands. Thereafter 500 spotted deers were translocated to Phen. Furthermore 500 will be shifted soon. With plenty of prey, hopefully Tigers will make Phen their new home.
Recently Tigers have been camera trapped in Achanakmar in Chattisgarh. Could these Tiger have travelled from Kanha via Phen. The possibility of same cannot be ruled out. In the last few years there were no direct signs of Tiger presence here. But the recent camera trap images showed a Tigress with 4 cubs. A very positive sign in Tiger conservation.
Four Tigers were camera trapped in Karauli wildlife sanctuary recently. These Tigers moved out of Ranthambhore and found home here. On finding Karauli to be perfect habitat they have decided to stay here. THis sanctuary once was home to Tigers, but for some reasons Tigers disappeared from here. They are now making a comeback on their own. With plenty of Leopards already here, Karauli will be proud to have the Tigers too. It is interesting to note that Tigers are laying claim to their erstwhile home not only here but in some more areas.
Similarly some Tigers from Ranthambhore have reached Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. This reserve has been waiting for Lions from Gujarat. But due to delay in arrival of Lions the Tigers have made Kuno their home in. Another positive development in Tiger conservation.
Using of Drones in 5 Tiger parks to monitor Tiger population is a pioneering step. Highly sophisticated Drones will be put in use by the end of 2016. Infact these Drones have already been tested successfully in Panna National Park. With only 2200 Tigers in the wild, and huge areas to cover, using technology to patrol is a great idea. I hope even micro satellites can be used in the future to monitor the few hundred Tigers left in the wild.
All these are very good initiatives in the right direction. We all know that the Tiger is a fast breeding cat, all it needs is inviolate space, and they multiply on their own.
Study done by WII has concluded that more than 40% of India’s wild tigers are outside the core zone. This is a very high number. Not only it puts the Tigers in danger of being poached, but it also increases the man-animal conflict. Hence these Tigers need better protection. One way forward is to do more patrolling in buffer. Due to limited resources if the forest management finds it tough to do the same, the opening of buffer to tourism will only benefit Tiger conservation.
A Tigress was camera trapped at an altitude of 12000 feet in Uttrakhand. In all probability she came from either Champawat or Haldwani range after crossing the river Kali. This further emphasizes the fact that Tigers are straying outside the core zone, and need buffers to protect them. The Uttrakhand government has been working on this, and monitoring these straying Tigers.