Centre sanctions Rs 2 crore for project tiger in TN
16 Dec 2008, 0611 hrs IST, B Aravind Kumar, TNN
CHENNAI: The Centre has released Rs 2 crore to Tamil Nadu this year for protection of tigers and management of tiger reserves under the ongoing centrally-sponsored scheme of Project Tiger.
According to sources, the financial assistance under Project Tiger to the state has quadrupled from Rs 45 lakh due to the creation of two more tiger reserves in Anamalai and Mudumalai in 2007.
Compared to allocation of funds for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan which have got Rs 24.77 crore and 20.83 crore respectively, the funds released to Tamil Nadu, the only state to have registered a positive growth in tiger population last year, is on the lower side. Last year, the state registered a 25% increase in tiger population when the numbers in the country had dwindled from 3,642 to 1,411.
Based on age-old techniques of wildlife census, it has been estimated that the tiger population is in the range of 20 to 25 in Kalakkad Mundanthurai, 25 to 30 in Anamalai and 30 to 40 in Mudumalai. The state government, however, has put the total tiger population in the state at a conservative 72.
Sources in the forest department say that the principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden have plans to take up a wildlife census early next year. Tamil Nadu would also request neighbouring states to conduct a synchronized census to get an accurate picture.
Project Tiger areas are indicators of healthy eco-systems where the big cats and co-inhabitants are protected. The Centre provides 100% assistance for key activities like habitat conservation, ecological protection, infrastructure development among others in such areas.
Meanwhile, activists demand that the wildlife census, especially for tigers, be conducted in areas outside the sanctuary limits as well. They point out that researchers directly spotted 10 tigers in Sathyamangalam forests, recently declared as a wildlife sanctuary. Tigers could also be present in the Palani Hills (Kodaikanal) and Varsunadu forests adjoining Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, says K Kalidasan, founder, OSAI, an environmental NGO.