New Delhi, Feb 13: The disclosure in the latest Tiger Census that the number of the endangered animal had come down to almost half since 2001 prompted noted wildlife expert and former director of the Project Tiger PK Sen to appeal to the Centre to deal with the issue on a war-footing.
The Prime Minister should call an urgent meeting of experts and ask them to come out with an adequate respose to the challenge, Mr Sen told UNI reacting to the Census Report released on Feb 12. Ms Sunita Narain, Chairperson of the Tiger Task Force constituted by the PMO in the wake of the Sariska crisis, refused to say much except ''we now have figures, and should get our act together.'' Mr Sen said ''The Ministry of Environment and Forests cannot save the tiger. They don't have the resources, knowledge and the technique to protect and conserve the animal. The task should be taken up at the PMO level.'' He said the disclosure that the number of tiger had come to less than hundred had not come as a surprise, or a disclosure, as the reality was known by all, only it did not have any government stamp.
When Project Tiger was started in 1973, the number of the endangered animal was 1800, and 35 years later now the situation has worsened with the number coming down to around 1500. In Mr Sen's view it did not have much meaning to say that the number had come down by half or one-third, as the previous figure were based on a method which was not very reliable.
He, however, said it would be wrong to say that the previous method used only pug marks, as except the camera trap, it used all other evidence taken into account by the new method. The difference was that the exercise was carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India which trained personnel for the purpose, and the new method took into account statistical variants, so the figures in the latest Census could be more reliable, he said ''But the moot point now is what to do. For that the issue should be taken up at the level of the Prime Minister, and at the war footing,'' he said.
The first and foremost step should be to strengthen anti-paoching measures to save the existing tigers, and the second was to provide space to the animal. Mr Sen felt that the Forest Rights Act promulagted this year would deal death blow to the cause of tiger and the wild life by helping the process of forest degradation.