CHENNAI: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is likely to commence security audit of four tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu in August-September. This is the first time such an exercise is being taken up.
NTCA has assigned the task of audit to Global Tiger Forum (GTF), an inter-governmental international organisation. Already, audit had been conducted in 25 tiger reserves in the northern States under Phase-1. Phase-2 audit will cover reserves in Tamil Nadu, top officials of NTCA said.
The population of tigers has witnessed a steep increase in the Tamil Nadu. In fact, it has tripled in the State in just eight years between 2006 and 2014. From 76 tigers in 2006, the number of big cats shot-up to 229 in 2014. Officials say the number is likely to go further considering healthy sightings reported in the ongoing All-India Tiger Estimation.
Officials said the audit, modelled on the global practices that is also used in most South-East Asian tiger bearing countries, was developed in collaboration with the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) and World Wildlife Fund.
SP Yadav, a former deputy inspector-general of NTCA and also ex-assistant secretary-general of GTF, said the security audit report of 25 tiger reserves undertaken in Phase-1 was almost complete and sooner NTCA will grant approval for Phase-2 audit that will cover remaining 25 reserves in India, mostly southern States.
Yadav has been instrumental in formulating Protocol for Security Audit of Tiger Reserves, a 64-page document that was released by Union Environment Ministry last year. The document on protocol for security audit of tiger reserves says India is the largest tiger range country in the world though the status of the tiger is still critically endangered.
The biggest threat to tiger conservation is poaching because of rising demand of tiger body parts and derivatives in consumer countries. “Every tiger living in the wild is under risk, therefore, development of protocol for security audit of our tiger reserves with international standards is a major step towards strengthening tiger protection,” it says.
Yadav said the audit is a three-tier exercise to assess the threat levels in a tiger reserve and current strategies available to address those threats. It consists of Threat Assessment, Protection Assessment and Conservation-Oriented Patrol Standards (COPS). The audit provides an overview, from an outside perspective, of where the gaps in the provision of protection and enforcement services occur, allowing the tiger reserve management to redress these shortfalls and thereby improve protection it offers to the bio-diversity it is mandated to preserve.
A senior forest official in Tamil Nadu forest department said the audit would complement the Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE), which is done once in every four years.
“The 2014 MEE tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu was categorised as ‘very good’ which shows our current management methodologies are sound and healthy. Three out of four reserves are categorised under very good category and Sathyamangalam was given ‘good’ status. Reserves in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu fall in fourth cluster, which enjoy a mean MEE score of 76.69 per cent, which is above the overall mean MEE score of 69.63 per cent.”