BHUBANESWAR: The majestic predator’s face peeping out of the tourism posters of the State could be a thing of the past sooner than later for the stripes are not burning bright in Odisha. Even as the country as a whole reported a healthy 30 per cent rise in tiger population, the large cat number has dropped to 28 in the State in 2014.
The All India Tiger Estimation Report, 2014, which was released by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar at New Delhi on Tuesday, has recorded continuing decline in the number of tigers across the State which has two notified tiger reserves.
According to 2010 estimation, which was conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with support from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the number was 32. In 2006, the tiger population was pegged at 45.
However, the exact status of tiger population in Similipal and Satkosia was not known since the detailed report was yet to be published. In 2010, the tiger population in Similipal was recorded at 23 (in a range of 12 to 34) whereas it was eight (in the range of seven to nine) in Satkosia.
The dwindling number of the large cats clearly points at indifference of the Odisha Government to secure the core critical tiger habitats which sustain the source population.
While the camera trap and sign survey methods adopted to capture the felines during the elaborate survey method had shown encouraging results this time both in Similipal and Satkosia, the drop could be a sign of worry for the State which has shown little interest in sanitising the tiger habitats. For, all States of the Central Indian Tiger Landscape and Eastern Ghat Landscape Complex barring Odisha, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have shown encouraging rise in the tiger numbers. The tiger population in these two contiguous landscapes has risen from 601 in 2010 to 688 in 2014.
The worry could deepen further if the tiger-occupied area in the State is found to have dropped proportionately. Between 2006 and 2010, the tiger occupied area in Similipal had dropped from 2294 sq km to 1088 sq km. For Satkosia, the decline was from 787 sq km to 450 sq km.
“If you look at the trends of tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh or even Karnataka, it points at how both the source population and spill-over population has increased. These two are inter-related but it is not the case in Odisha. The task for the Government would be to take measures and secure the core critical habitats so that the source population builds up. Like Rajasthan showed a turn-around,” said a conservationist.