BENGALURU: Karnataka has the highest number of tigers in the country and of the age of 1.5 years and more. According to the 2014 Tiger Census report released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Tuesday, the state has 406 tigers. The last census, conducted in 2011, had put the number at 300.
This time around, the survey was done more rigorously and taken up beyond the tiger reserves. It involved extensive study of camera trap results.
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ajay Misra congratulated every stakeholder involved in tiger protection. “This rise (in tiger population) is largely due to better management and improved protection within the five main tiger reserves and the protected areas in the state. Tiger conservation is a complex issue and involves participation of locals and wildlife experts, protection from poachers, good communication networks and prosecution of wildlife offenders,” he said. He added that all the state reserves have a good habitat and a healthy prey population, and as a result, an even distribution of tigers.
K Ullas Karanth, director of Wildlife Conservation Society and the Centre for Wildlife Studies, told Express that the state’s forest and wildlife protection system has improved substantially in the last five to six years. “We also have citizens interested in conservation and many effective NGOs. Economic development too has offered new avenues of livelihood for people who depended on subsistence hunting in the past. Rising literacy has helped increase tolerance towards wildlife,” he added.
D V Girish said there has been a huge improvement in estimation methods over the years. On the fact that India houses 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population, Karanth said, “In the 1970s, Indira Gandhi introduced strong wildlife protection laws and initiated Project Tiger.
“Our forest departments and conservation NGOs who campaigned for the tiger also worked hard. Compared to this, other countries which have 75 per cent of the remaining tiger habitat lagged... some have even lost their tigers.”
The NTCA report says the future of tigers depends on maintaining inviolate core habitats for breeding tigers, and ensuring habitat connectivity and protection from poachers. Wildlife First managing trustee Praveen Bhargava agreed, saying the state needs look to close the gaps in its tiger protection programmes.