Tigress present in Panna reserve: Forest official

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Bhopal, Feb 20: Madhya Pradesh Principal Chief Wildlife Warden P B Gangopadhyay today claimed that female tiger is still left in the Panna Tiger Reserve.

Denying reports about the vanishing of tigress from the national park, Mr Gangopadhyay told to the sources here that, ''Unnecessary controversy is being created in this regard. A team has visited the Panna reserve recently and female tiger is present there.'' However, he didn't elaborate about the number of big cats left in the Panna reserve, which once bosted of having 300 tigers during the princely era.

Wildlife expert Raghu Chundawat, who had carried out research in the Panna Tiger Reserve for a long time, had claimed recently that tiger was on the verge of extinction in Panna.

''No female tiger has been spotted by tourists in the Panna Tiger Reserve in the past four months sparking fears of the animal being wiped out of the tiger reserve,'' Dr Chundawat said.

On sharp decline in the number of tigers in Madhya Pradesh as per the latest tiger census from about 710 to 300, Mr Gangopadhyay said tiger population had reduced due to the loss of natural habitat.

''There is no habitat outside tiger reserve areas where the animal can breathe freely due to population pressure on land and disturbance on forest area. Besides, these habitats are isolated and not connected,'' he said.

Mr Gangopadhyay said re-location of villages in tiger reserve areas is being carried out in order to preserve tiger habitats.

Besides, steps are being taken up to curb poaching.

On whether the present system of estimation by camera trapping was more accurate than pugmark estimation and tiger population had been exaggerated during previous census, he said the present methodology provided better picture and ''it could be said that previous counting was more''.

''However, both methods could not be compared and depletion could not be denied. More accurate picture could be known after the next census,'' he added.

Meanwhile, Van Vihar National Park Director J S Chouhan said a wounded tiger brought here from Satna was recuperating and was quite better. The tiger had received a gunshot wound injury near the spine. ''There is no threat to its life but it would take time to recover,'' he said.

UNI

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