“The region is one of the best potential tiger habitats in the Western Ghats”

It's better known for its formula of “Sun, sea and sand,” but the State of Goa could soon get its first tiger reserve.

While the small coastal State may have only one resident tigress — who recently gave birth to cubs — it is located next to forests with larger tiger populations in Karnataka and Maharashtra. The Centre hopes that declaring this area as a protected reserve for the big cat will also stymie the rampant exploitation of mining resources.

In a letter to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh suggested that the State submit a proposal to have the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary declared as a tiger reserve.

“There is evidence to show that tigers in Goa are not merely transient animals but are a resident population as well,” said Mr. Ramesh.

Conservationists in the area have been advocating a tiger reserve in north Goa for years, and Mr. Ramesh noted that there is “considerable local community support” for the proposal.

He added that Mhadei is a contiguous tiger landscape to Karnataka’s Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi Dandeli Tiger Reserve which has 35 tigers. A 2008 study by the Wildlife Institute of India pointed out that this interstate region is one of the best potential tiger habitats in the Western Ghats.

Mr. Ramesh suggested that the State government could even expand the proposed tiger reserve beyond the existing boundaries of the Mhadei sanctuary in a bid to “ensure the long term protection of biodiversity-rich areas”.