Tiger population dwindling in MP
8 Jun 2009, 1708 hrs IST, PTI
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh is on the verge of losing its 'Tiger state' tag to Karnataka due to dwindling number of the big cats.
In the last 13 months, five tigers and tigresses died in the state capital's national park and zoos, wildlife experts said.
According to a tiger census conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2007, Madhya Pradesh has 300 big cats followed by Karnataka with 290.
Uttarakhand was on the third spot with 178 tigers and tigresses followed by Uttar Pradesh (109) and Maharashtra (103), Andhra Pradesh (95) while in Tamil Nadu the population of tigers was 76.
Another tiger census conducted by the Indian Wildlife Institute (WII) puts the wild cat population in five tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh as - Kanha (89), Bandhavgarh (47), Satpura (39), Pench (33) and Panna (24) lower at 232.
A four-member Central inquiry committee recently announced that Panna Tiger Reserve was tiger-less since January.
"It is regrettable that not even one tiger is left in Panna," Committee Chairman and former NTCA Director, P K Sen had said after visiting the tiger reserve, spread about 543 square km in the state.
Concerned over the NTCA report, the Madhya Pradesh government has formed a six-member committee to look into the matter and submit its report within three months.
Taking a strong view of the incident, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has transferred Field Directors of Panna, Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks late last month.
The state Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr H S Pabla admitted the tiger population in Panna has decreased but said it has remained constant in other areas of the state.
A report of International Union for Conservation of Nature has said that in the past few years, India, which is known as "The Land of the Tiger", has registered a maximum decrease compared to other countries.
The big cat population in the world is around 5,140 and India tops the list with 1,411.