Karnataka in race with M.P. to emerge as ‘Tiger State’

Prime Minister to release All India Tiger Estimation numbers in Mysuru on Sunday

April 08, 2023 08:44 pm | Updated 08:44 pm IST - MYSURU

Fifty years of Project Tiger is being commemorated at a function in Mysuru on Sunday.

Fifty years of Project Tiger is being commemorated at a function in Mysuru on Sunday. | Photo Credit: File Photo

Karnataka is in the race with Madhya Pradesh to emerge as the ‘Tiger State’ of the country even as all eyes are on the 2022 tiger enumeration results which will be released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mysuru on Sunday at an event to commemorate 50 years of Project Tiger.

Karnataka’s tiger population was pegged at 524 with a range from 475 to 573 tigers while Madhya Pradesh had 526 tigers with a range from 441 to 621 as per the 2018 enumeration results.

Karnataka reported 290 tigers in 2006, 300 in 2010, 406 in 2014, and 524 in 2018. Sources in the Forest Department say that strong protection measures had helped increase tiger numbers, especially in Bandipur and Nagarahole.

Fifty years of conservation has helped shore up the tiger population at Bandipur from 12 in 1973 to 126 in 2018, and the 2022 figures are set to increase further and could cross 150 mark, officials say.

But conservation experts opine that the tiger population may be reaching saturation levels at not only Bandipur but also the adjoining Nagarahole.

This is also evident in the frequency with which both the parks are reporting human-tiger conflicts with increasing regularity.

Hence, officials aver it is imperative to increase protection measures and declare both Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary as tiger reserves so that nearly 2,000 sq km of forests are made available to absorb the spillover tiger population. While the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 1,027.53 sq km, the M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary has an area of 906.18 sq km. Conservation thrust for Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary was a must to absorb surplus tiger population in Karnataka, according to Ramesh Kumar, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

“’The Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and there are no major issues pertaining to corridor disturbance but for a few enclosures within the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and they can easily be relocated,” said Nandesh, DCF, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.

The prey population base is also high in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary to support tiger numbers and increase in protection since the last two decades has helped the recovery of wildlife, Mr. Nandesh added.

The NTCA which published Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey in India-2018 noted with reference to Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary that apart from tigers it was also home to elephants, wild boars, leopards, dholes, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, four-horned antelope, common langur, bonnet macaque, honey badger, grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura) and smooth-coated otter etc.

With regard to M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, the proposal for declaring it as a project tiger reserve was cleared more than two years ago but the final notification is still pending with the State government.

Conservation biologists have argued that providing corridor connectivity and protecting buffer zones will ensure the absorption of surplus or spillover population of wildlife, besides enabling migration and also help reduce human-tiger conflicts.

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