Tiger population up in Telangana

Tiger population up in Telangana

India is a home to 60 per cent of the global tiger population. Way back in 1973, India launched ‘Project Tiger’

India is a home to 60 per cent of the global tiger population. Way back in 1973, India launched 'Project Tiger', with nine tiger reserves to control the dwindling tiger population and since then the efforts have been reinforced.

Now, India has 50 tiger reserves in 18 states accounting for nearly 2.21 per cent of the country's total geographical area.

The fourth cycle of All-India Tiger Estimation was conducted first time in Telangana during June 2018 in all the forest areas of Telangana covering both inside and outside wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks and Tiger Reserves along with all States in India.

Earlier were also conducted three cycles in the combined State of Andhra Pradesh in the year 2006,2010 and 2014.

The survey was conducted in two Tiger Reserves of Telangana. The two Reserves are falling in Nagarkurnool and Nalgonda Districts and Kawal Tiger Reserve falling in Nirmal, Mancherial, Adilabad and KB Asifabad Districts.

While Amrabad Tiger Reserve is situated on the banks of river Krishna, the Kawal Tiger Reserve is situated on the banks of river Godavari. These, two Tiger Reserves fall in the Central India Landscape and the Eastern Ghats.

As per analysis of report, the Amrabad Tiger Reserve falling in Nallamaliah Forest Belt and Kawal Tiger Reserve combined have a Tiger population of 26 Tigers now compared to 20 in 2014.

Monitoring Effectiveness Evaluation report 2018 is an indication of the better management practices for both the Tiger Reserve. In respect of Kawal, it moved up from "Fair" to "Good" rating with 60.16 percent.

In respect of Amrabad Tiger Reserve, it remained in Good category but the overall score is more than 71.09% which is nearer to Very Good category (75%).

Sustained conservation efforts through continued "political will" have resulted in an increase in tiger numbers in Telangana, it could be achieved through sustained management practices adopted by forest department, wherein they have made concerted efforts on improving the water regime in the forest area and also improving the availability of grass resulting in improving the prey base.

While there is sufficient habitat to accommodate increasing tigers in Telangana, much of this habitat needs conservation investment so as to recover prey populations.

Improved protection of forests has also helped this cause to a great extent. Support of NGOs helped the forest department in this respect.

Presence of cubs in both the tiger reserves is a very encouraging sign of improvement of the tiger habitat and indicative of the bright future for the tiger populations in Telangana, noted the report.

Of late, the Telangana government has decided to form a ' State Tiger Protection Force', to save tigers in the State with 112- armed member STPF headed by Conservator of Forest to protect the tiger population in Amarabad and Kawal Tiger Reserves.

The cost of the force will be shared on 40:60 basis, both by the State and Central government. This force will act tough against those felling forest trees and committing other related crimes. Cases under the Preventive Detention Act would be registered against violators.

"Tigers cannot survive without forests and similarly forests perish without tigers. Tigers protect the forests that nurture them", this aptly reflected a verse from the Mahabharata Udyoga Parva.

In the modern era of development, conserving the tiger is an onerous task. Ensuring the conservation of this top carnivore guarantees the well-being of our forested ecosystems, the biodiversity they represent as well as the water and climate security they provide.

According to 'the Status of Tigers in India 2018', report, the fourth cycle of National tiger status assessment of 2018-19 is the most accurate survey conducted.

The survey covered 381,400 km of forested habitats in 20 tiger occupied states of India. A foot survey of 522,996 km was done for carnivore signs and prey abundance estimation. In these forests, 317,958 habitat plots were sampled for vegetation, human impacts and prey dung. Camera traps were deployed at 26,838 locations.

These cameras resulted in 34,858,623 photographs of wildlife of which 76,651 were of tigers and 51,777 were of leopards. The total area sampled by camera traps was 121,337 km.

The total effort invested in the survey was 593,882 man-days. We believe that this is the world's largest effort invested in any wildlife survey till date, on all of the above criteria.

The report also reveals that Tiger occupancy has increased in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. Loss in North East is due to poor sampling.

Madhya Pradesh has also registered a substantial increase in their tiger population and along with Karnataka ranks highest in tiger numbers. The poor and continuing decline in tiger status in the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha is a matter of concern.

"There is a scope for increasing tigers in the Eastern Ghats landscape including Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. However, the report warned that the sustainability of the big cat population is expected to remain a challenge with the forests inhabited by the tiger in the State facing a variety of threats.

Topping these dangers are that of encroachment of forest land, illegal felling of trees, poaching of wildlife, including tigers, and cattle grazing.

In 2010, at the Tiger Summit of St. Petersburg, world leaders committed to doubling tiger numbers by 2022. Despite having a human population of 1.35 billion and the fastest growing economy, India is committed on conservation of natural heritage.

Gudipati Rajendera Kumar, Hyderabad

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