Monday, June 18, 2007

Lone Indian reserve shows increase in tiger population

Pachmarhi (MP), June 17: With recent decline in the number of tigers in the country, the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh has shown a reversal in the trend with four more addition.

An increase in the number of wildcats in the sanctuary has come as a breather for conservationists and wildlife officials.

"The survey done by Dehra Dun based Wildlife Conservation has found that number of tigers in Satpura were 35 in 2004 but now they have gone up to 39 in 2006," said S. S. Rajput, zonal coordinator of Satpura Tiger Reserve.

Recently, the wildlife experts and conservationists released the preliminary results of a tiger census that indicated the population of the endangered big cats being drastically lower than previously assumed.

Experts from the government-run Wildlife Institute of India (WII) had presented initial results of a new count of tigers in 16 of India's 28 tiger reserves and their surrounding areas.

The WII, which has been monitoring tiger populations across the country for the past two years, did not give a new estimated national total for tigers, but said habitat destruction and human encroachment were leading to declining numbers.

India has half the world's surviving tigers, but conservationists say the country is losing the battle to save the big cats.

There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago, but decades of poaching had cut their number to about 3,700, according to a count conducted in 2001 and 2002.

Conservationists said they believed the new census results suggested there was a decline of 65 percent in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, which has one of the largest populations of tigers in India.

Earlier, tiger counts had been done solely by spotting their pugmarks (tracks) but conservationists said the method was faulty, mainly due to varying soil and weather conditions.

The new method involves actual tiger sightings using camera traps, as well as pugmarks and faces.

WII experts have said effective tiger conservation would only become a reality if reserves were connected to one another so tigers have a larger area to breed and hunt.

The WII has said full national figures would be released at the end of the year. Satpura-Reserve-shows-increase-in-tiger-population

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