BENGALURU: If Karnataka is to retain the status of premier tiger state in the country, then counting of tigers in territorial divisions will play a big role. In the last national census of 2014, the state led the country with 406 tigers.
According to forest officials, the census of carnivores and mega-herbivores is a big challenge in the territorial divisions. Therefore, the state forest department has made yeomen efforts to train its staff, made field preparations and held mock drills for the finale of the first phase of All India Tiger Estimation-2018 (AITE) in the state.
Speaking to Express, Manoj Kumar, CCF and Nodal Officer, AITE-2018, said retaining the status as the Tiger State of the country is a big challenge. He added, “We have to do the census systematically and with equal intensity as done in protected areas to ascertain the right number of tigers outside them. We have held thorough five-day training programmes as we have to motivate the staff to do proper assessments as per sign and line transect survey.”
G Veeresh, wildlife activist, added, “Tiger census in territorial division will be good for habitat protection and elicit a correct assessment of both predator/prey protection. Apart from hill ranges of Bababudanagiri and Mulayanagiri, the presence of big cats have been frequently seen in Churchegudda, Masagali and other reserve forests. With Bhadra reported to have a population of 25 tigers, they frequently move out to surrounding forest areas.”
The Tiger Census comprising sign survey of big carnivores and mega herbivores in territorial areas will take off on January 22 and will be followed by line transect survey from January 25-27. This will be done in Kalaburagi, Ballari, Dharwad, Chitradurga and other circles. In all these circles, intensive training of forest staff was carried out from Jan 15-20. In Chincholi and Ballari, there is special interest as forest officials opine there is a healthy population of leopards and Indian wolves.
Wildlife Conservationist Santosh Martin from Ballari added, “This is a big challenge and needs proper assessment as it has never been done. Ballari has a very good leopard population, in fact, in the city itself, two animals were seen recently. Preferring the rocky and hilly terrain, they are found in Sandur, Daroji, Torangal, Hampi and Gangavati. However Indian wolves are found in Koppal, Raichur and Chincholi.”
In Chitradurga district, the density of leopards and sloth bear is pretty good, district forest officials said. “The rocky terrain and dry deciduous forest and scrub habitat is conducive for both these animals to inhabit the areas of Chitradurga, Jogimatti, Molkalamuru, Hollalkere and Hosadurga. All efforts are being made for their protection but this census will help in formulating better strategies.”