Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tiger population declines in 2 more Indian reserves

Lucknow, July 12 (PTI): Tiger population has declined in the famous Dudhwa and Katerniaghat sanctuaries in Uttar Pradesh between 2002 and 2005 and lack of proper monitoring, protection and enforcement activities has rendered "ineffective" the project to conserve the big cats.

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report for the year ended 2006, the implementation of the 'Project Tiger', a Centrally-sponsored programme, suffered as the management of land was not effective and large areas either remained unclaimed or encroached.

The report revealed that the number of tigers in Dudhwa declined from 115 in 2002 to 106 in 2005, while it went down from 50 in 2002 to 42 in 2005 in Katerniaghat.

It said that 5.78 square kilometres (sq.kms) of land in Dudhwa was under encroachment by 3725 people and their cattle since long, while in Katerniaghat 38.42 sqkms area was under unauthorised occupation.

The buffer zone was not identified in Dudhwa and Katerniaghat, exposing the core zone to biotic interference, it said, maintaining that tranquil habitat could not be provided to wildlife as rail and roads passed through the tiger reserves.

The report said that "conservation activities were not effective as weeds, creepers and monocultures were not removed and ineffective management of grassland resulted in sub-optimal growth of herbivores affecting availability of prey base for the tigers."

The CAG went on to point out that the forest department also failed to adopt accurate techniques for tiger census as the 'pug mark method' of census had an inaccuracy range of plus or minus 20 per cent.

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