Tigers shining in Karnataka
22 Jan 2009, 0000 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: The dwindling population of tigers in the country is a major concern. But Karnataka gives reason to smile: a recent study reveals that the state's tiger population is stable.
The study, 'Distribution and dynamics of tiger and prey populations in Karnataka' by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Centre for Wildlife Studies, was done covering a 22,000 square km landscape - Malenad-Mysore Tiger Landscape (MMTL).
A tiger abundance index was derived which shows there are about 200 adult/juvenile tigers in the MMTL region. Intensive monitoring in three prime tiger habitats - Nagarahole National Park, Bandipur National Park and Bhadra Tiger Reserve - indicate that tiger populations in Nagarahole and Bandipur are relatively high and stable with tiger densities ranging between 11 and 15 adults per 100 square km.
"Tiger conservation is of high national priority and the National Tiger Conservation Authority is now seeking collaborations with research institutions to monitor tigers across the country. This project presents a practical yet rigorous scheme for monitoring tiger populations intensively in reserves and also for periodic monitoring at wider regional scales. We are pleased to offer a working model of how this can be done in an entire state, a model that can be extended across key tiger landscapes in the country. I believe that the methods we are using in Karnataka, the sample sizes we attained and thereby the robustness of the results, are far in advance of any other tiger monitoring programme in the world," says K Ullas Karanth, senior conservation scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society, and director, Centre for Wildlife Studies.
In comparison with the earlier studies done a decade ago, tiger and prey numbers seem to be holding steady in Bandipur and Nagarahole and increasing vigorously in Bhadra. "This is relatively good news in the face of what we hear from other parts of the country. Yet a lot more work is needed to push tiger numbers up at other key sites like Anshi-Dandeli, Kudremukh and Talacauvery-Brahmagiri and other areas," Karanth added.
* Densities of large ungulate prey were also high ranging between 17 and 25 animals per sqkm in Bandipur and 23 and 42 animals per sqkm in Nagarahole.
* Documentation shows that there is a rebound of prey densities in the Bhadra reserve region after the villages on the forest fringes were relocated a few years ago.
* Combined prey density has increased from 12 per sqkm (prior to relocation in 2000) to 23 animals per sqkm in 2007.
* This is the result of relocating 419 families from 13 villages in 2002. * Tiger densities currently in Bhadra are 2 to 3 tigers per 100 sqkm.