Big cats roar again in Karnataka
By Team Mangalorean Bangalore
Chikmagalur/Bangalore, January 24, 2010: On the third day of the Tiger Census volunteers and forest department officials have sighted rich presence of big cats in the reserved forests of Karnataka. The state has the second highest population of tigers in the country after MP, according to the last tiger census.
Though the volunteers were unable to detect major signs of the wild cats' presence on the first two days of the all-India census, third day was full of enthusiasm and bright hopes. Nine tigers and two leopards were sighted in the course of the day, and one sighting involved a mother tiger with her three cubs in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve region. Three tigers and a leopard were spotted in Biligiri Rangana Temple wildlife sanctuary and three tigers and two leopards in Nagarhole forests, according to the team.
"Volunteers walking the forest lines have spotted 15 tigers and six leopards in a single day. We are positive about the estimation of tiger population in the state," said chief wildlife warden B.K. Singh. Though this is a good sign, it is too early to celebrate, he said. "I am very happy with the present situation. It indicates that the tiger population in Karnataka is improving," principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), BK Singh.
The Anshi-Dandeli tiger reserve comprises evergreen forest patches, and was declared as a tiger reserve two years ago. Anshi is spread over 399.87 sq km, and Dandeli occupies 600.32 sq km. A senior official at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, said that it was a good sign that the tiger population was roaring back. He said that tigers have a tendency to bounce back and breed well in conducive habitats.
The 37 teams led by the Bhadra wildlife deputy conservator of forest, Vijayamohanraj, are making efforts to find signs of the big cat and other predators like leopards, sloth bears and doles. Each team has been provided with a forest front line staff in all the four ranges of Bhadra wildlife sanctuary.
According to P R Sinha, director of the Wildlife Institute of India, the census in Karnataka will be completed within the next two months after which the enumeration excercise will be undertaken in Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and other states. 17 states having tiger population will be taken up for the census in the 37 tiger reserves with over 3.5 lakh men involved in the exercise.
The official said the tiger reserves in the North-East region will be covered once the weather improves there while census will be undertaken in Sunderbans tiger reserve next month.
The first phase of the exhaustive tiger census will be about the likely presence of tigers in specified areas while the second phase deals with tiger population.
The latest round of census incorporates methodologies such as camera trap, DNA analysis of tiger scat and analysing pug marks as also rake marks on trees.
The camera trap methods were used extensively in the last census held three years ago as per which the tiger population in the country was projected to be in a range of 1,411 and 1,657.
Worldover experts believe there are only about 3,500 tigers left in the wild in the wake of shrinking habitat besides poaching and man-animal conflict. Just a century ago there numbers were estimated at over a lakh.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is confident that during the World Tiger Summit in Ranthanbore in September, the tiger census based on new methodology will be released.
"Its a huge excercise involving huge landscape. Nevertheless, preliminary indications about tiger status will be available by September," a senior official said.