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The rise in India’s tiger population is not all good news


New Delhi, July 31: The Tiger Census 2018, which shows that the number of Tigers in India has doubled, is a significant achievement. There are some 2,967 tigers in the wild in India according to the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018. This is a 33 per cent increase over the 2014 census.

With this, India has achieved the target of doubling the tiger population four years early ahead of 2022. While this is a moment of pride, the uneven distribution of the big cats is a matter of concern.

The rise in India’s tiger population is not all good news

Madhya Pradesh showed the highest increase of 218 tigers, reaching an estimated 526, followed by Karnataka with 524. The numbers have also increased in Uttarakhand (442), Maharashtra (312) and Tamil Nadu (264).

No tigers were found in Buxa (West Bengal), Dampa (Mizoram). While Goa is left with just three tigers, compared to five in 2014, Mizoram and West Bengal recorded no tigers this time, with the authorities citing poor sampling as the reason.

In the Status report of 2014, the tiger population of Buxa, Palamu and Dampa stood at 2 (Bauxa TR), 3 (Dampa TR) and 3 (Palamu TR).

In Chhattisgarh, the state worst hit by Naxalism, has seen the biggest slump in the tiger number from 46 in 2014 to 19 in 2019.

Tiger Census 2018: Madhya Pradesh beats Karnataka to reclaim Tiger state tag with 526 big catsTiger Census 2018: Madhya Pradesh beats Karnataka to reclaim Tiger state tag with 526 big cats

"Chhattisgarh is in very bad shape. Left-wing extremism has hit the state due to which the forest staff are not able to go to the tiger reserves. There are managerial reasons there and the strategy has to be fine-tuned," Gopal said.

Expressing similar views, Y V Jhala, a scientist at WII, said there has been a decline in the number of tigers in Chhattisgarh due to the law and order problem.

"The law and order problem in Chhattisgarh is a huge issue. Conservation activities are tough to do in that state, yet sampling was done in many areas and there is a genuine decline in the number," he said.

The report said the poor tiger status in the Indravati reserve in Chhattisgarh was related to the law and order situation in the area.

"In areas where tigers have not been recorded or the population has declined, restoration needs to proceed by improving protection, augmentation of prey, and reintroduction of tigers from the appropriate source," it said.

According to the report, tiger reserves in the north-east hills and Odisha remain critically vulnerable and need immediate attention.

Only nine of India's tiger reserves Corbett, Kanha, Painch Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Sundarbans, Kaziranga, Tadoba and Madumalai, Sathyamangalam, Bandipur and Nagarhole have a robust tiger population in India.

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