A recent paper on tigers in Central India says their movement along animal corridors is not deterred by the long distances. The presence of human settlements is said to be a hindrance to connecting different tiger populations.
The paper goes on to add that the future survival of tigers depends on this connectivity.
The paper was authored by Uma Ramakrishnan, faculty of Ecology and Evolution at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, in Plos One.
Uma said, “Just having lots of tigers is not enough. It is also important that tiger populations remain connected to each other through movement of individuals.”
Loss of ‘Connectivity’
“In our study, we have already seen a loss of connectivity between tiger populations in the last 200 years or so.” Dr Ullas Karanth, Director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “In some of the better protected wildlife areas such as Bandipur-Nagarahole, the prey densities are very high (30-40 prey animals per sq km). Consequently, tiger densities are also very high (8-15 tigers per 100 sq km). Such thriving big cat populations have high birth rates and high death rates. There is competition for limited territories and a lot of aggression takes place between the animals.”
“This leads to old or disabled big cats or sub-adults being pushed to the edges of the reserve, or out of it, to search for new territories, leading to man-animal conflict, and in some rare occasions the tigers become man-eaters. This does not mean there is no food or water for them inside the reserve...”
Humans Not Prey
Wildlife experts feel tigers do not normally prey on humans.
There have been only a couple of authenticated cases of persistent predation of humans by tigers in Bandipur-Nagarahole, in the last 30 years.
He felt this must be borne in mind when decisions are made that will have an impact on the animal.
“We should also recognise that less than four per cent of land area is in protected areas for wildlife.
“We have to focus on saving viable populations of tigers and leopards, for which the support of locals who live in the reserves fringes is important,” he remarked.