BANGALORE: The number of tigers may see an upward trend in the National Tiger Census being conducted across the country with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stating that the present exercise is covering more areas compared to the 2010 census.
The census, conducted once in four years, revealed a population of 1,706 in 2010 and among them, 300 tigers were found in Karnataka.
The latest census has been completed in Karnataka early this year, but it is still going on in a few other states. Speaking to Express in the backdrop of Global Tiger Day (observed on July 29), Dipankar Ghose, Director (Species and Landscapes Programme), WWF-India said, “In terms of tiger monitoring exercise, the numbers in the country might fare better than before since more areas are being sampled and covered across the country compared to the previous exercises. However, we are not in a position to comment specifically on the situation in Karnataka.”
The global conservation organisation has taken up various initiatives to maintain and restore tiger habitats and critical corridors while protecting the feline and its prey base within India. Ghose added, “Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have provided an opportunity to conserve viable tiger populations within a larger landscape matrix under multiple use system. We understand that baseline estimates of tigers and prey have been generated for Nagarahole, Bandipur, Bhadra along with data on tiger presence from the other parts of the landscape. There have been collaborations among various stakeholders on creating awareness about tiger conservation, conducting awareness activities for people living in proximity to tiger reserves and initiating voluntary resettlement projects in certain key sites.”
WWF-India is further collaborating with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) this year to understand proper tiger and prey status across the Western Ghats-Nilgiris landscape.
While WCS is conducting camera trapping and line transects in Nagarahole and Bandipur, WWF is conducting the same in Waynad as well as in North and South Nilgiris Forest Divisions, including part of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
“We hope to have an estimate for the entire landscape. The status of prey base will come clearer when we have analysed the data,” he added. Closely involved in tiger conservation in 15 states of the country, the WWF is working directly in all tiger bearing areas including protected and non-protected areas and corridors.
‘Poaching is a Major Threat’
With the National Tiger Conservation Authority reporting 35 tiger deaths till August 1 this year in India, the WWF has stated that poaching continues to be a major threat to wild tigers as there is a high demand for its parts in Asia. With regular national tiger surveys being carried out only in India, Nepal and Russia, the organisation has called upon South East Asian countries to carry out the surveys without further delay as the actual numbers lost to poaching may never be realised.