GUWAHATI: Arunachal Pradesh has scripted a success story in tiger conservation.
From nothing in 2010, the state now has 29 tigers, according to the status of tigers in India released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
Back in 2006, the tiger population in the forested and Himalayan Arunachal was 14. The next census carried out in 2010, however, sprang a surprise as the state did not record a single tiger. The good news came in 2014 when 28 tigers were sighted. The number rose to 29 last year.
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Forest officials attributed the turnaround to better protection and mapping in a scientific manner.
“The growth is primarily due to two reasons – better protection of the tiger habitats and the use of technology in a scientific manner,” Arunachal’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Dr. M Surya Prakash, told this newspaper.
He said the state was getting a lot of assistance from the National Tiger Conservation Authority under Project Tiger. He said the assistance had helped them to lay a large number of camera traps.
“We basically rely on three methods to count the animal – camera traps, scats and the traditional pug marks. We collect fecal matters which are called scats. We send them to the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for DNA analysis. We also count the animal by studying pugmarks. Then, there is camera trap which is most common. We have a dedicated pool of workers engaged in the animal’s protection,” Prakash said.
Arunachal has four tiger habitats – Pakke Tiger Reserve, Namdapha Tiger Reserve, Kamlang Tiger Reserve and Debang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Prakash said the tiger population in the state could be higher as many virgin forests remain unexplored.
“Arunachal has a geographical area of over 83,000 sq km. Many areas haven’t been surveyed. There are virgin forest areas which are yet to be explored. There is no road connectivity and as the state falls under a high rainfall area, we have limited accessibility,” the forest officer said.
He said they had not received any report of attempts by poachers saying, “The more number of tigers identified through camera traps and other methods indicates that there is not much of poaching attempts”.
Assam is the other state in the Northeast which has constantly done well in tiger conservation. The tiger population in the state rose from 70 in 2006 to 190 in 2018.