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Sunderbans home to 96 tigers, Bengal Forest Dept. estimates

A tiger is seen in Sunderbans. Photo used for representation purpose only.   | Photo Credit: AP

The number of tigers in the Sunderbans, as found out by the West Bengal Forest Department recent tiger estimation exercise for 2020-21, puts the number of big cats in the region at 96. The Sundarbans are the world’s largest mangrove delta and the only mangrove tiger habitat in the world.

Of the 96 tigers, 74 were captured via camera traps and identified as unique individuals in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve; another 22 were located in the South 24 Parganas Forest Department’s area.

Tiger monitoring in the Sunderbans, one of most difficult terrains to survey because of its swamps and creeks, is carried out annually as per the Phase IV protocol mandated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wildlife Institute of India. A total of 1,307 camera trap units were installed at 726 locations spanning the entire biosphere reserve.

In the Sundarban Tiger Reserve, the highest number of tigers, at 24, have been located in the National Park-East, followed by 21 big cats in the National Park-West.

In the Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary, the estimation exercise located 12 tigers. In the Basirhat Range, the number of big cats stood at 17.

The total area of the Sundarban Tiger Reserve with its four ranges (Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary, Basirhat Range, the National Park-East and the National Park-West) is 2,584.92 sq. km.. The three tiger bearing ranges of 24 Parganas (South) division, that is, Matla, Raidighi and Ramganga, comprises 1111.07 sq. km. of area in total.

There is no change in the number of tigers compared to the estimation carried out by the State Forest Department in 2019-20, which had put the number of tigers at 96.

The All India Tiger Estimation Exercise carried out in the country in 2018-19 had placed the number of tigers in the Sundarbans at 88. The tiger estimation also proves that cyclone Amphan, which battered the Sunderbans in May 2020, has not impacted its tiger population.

The details of the estimation exercise were shared by State Forest Minister Jyotipriya Mullick on Thursday, the International Tiger Day.

“We have prepared one detailed project report on the new Mangrove Resource Centre at Sajnekhali, which will focus on research on mangroves as well as tigers and other wildlife in the Sundarbans. One control room has been established at Sajnekhali for monitoring the movement of tigers, and communication with remote camps for the purpose of protection. Tiger estimation will be a continuous exercise after the monsoon and will continue till March every year,” Mr. Mullick said

“In 2020-21, cameras were installed in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve between the 5th and 11th of December 2020 and retrieved between the 8th and 12th of January 2021. The corresponding dates for the 24 Parganas (South) Forest Division were the 12th and 15th of January and 16th and 18th of February 2021, respectively,” details shared by V.K. Yadav, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal, revealed.

The Sundarbans is prone to human tiger conflict because of human habitation on the fringes of the protected areas. People are dependent on fisheries and crab cultivation for their livelihood, and even venture into the forest for honey cultivation, which results in conflicts. The Forest Department has placed nylon nets to prevent tigers from straying into human habitations, resulting in a drop in the number of tiger attacks, but cases of human-tiger conflicts are still reported from the region.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 1:10:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sunderbans-home-to-96-tigers-bengal-forest-dept-estimates/article35617823.ece

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