COIMBATORE: The population of tigers in the Coimbatore forest division, which comprises seven ranges, has been on the rise over the past four years, officials said on the eve of International Tiger Day (Friday). Forest department Officials refused to reveal the numbers, citing NTCA guidelines, but sources said there could be more than 20 big cats in the division.
Direct sightings of a mother tiger with cubs were recorded by field-level staff while on patrol. Another tiger was recorded in another place with a roaring sound. Besides, some camera traps fixed to monitor wild elephants recorded movements of new tigers, they added.
According to a survey conducted in 2018, 15 estimated tigers were spotted in the division. The findings of the survey were published in the report ‘Status of Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India’, which was released by the Union Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change in July 2020.
Speaking to TNIE, S Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests Coimbatore circle, said “We have good reasons to believe that the number of tigers has increased in the past four years. There is an abundance of water and prey like deer, gaur, elephant calf, wild boar, etc, in the region.
A tiger hunts on flat surfaces and such land tracts are in plenty in Boluvampatti, Sirumugai and Mettupalayam forest ranges, apart from water in the Noyyal and Bhavani rivers. A tiger that was recently spotted in Boluvampatti is thriving as there is no human disturbance.
Vehicle movement on the Mettupalayam- Ooty and Mettupalayam- Kotagiri roads are a concern though.” “We plan to install two camera traps in a two sqkm area where tigers have been spotted by August. This will help us identify every tiger individually using its distinct pattern of stripes and calculate the exact numbers,” he said.
Asked if the Coimbatore forest division would be declared a tiger reserve because of the rising population, Ramasubramaniam said it was too early to comment on that. First, Coimbatore would be upgraded to a sanctuary status and then opinion will be sought from stakeholders before declaring the division as a tiger reserve.
Weight and habitat
A 4-year-old male tiger weighs 220 kg (approximate) and occupies 20 to 25 square km. It consumes 10 to 12 kg every time it feeds. A 3-year-old female tiger weighs 175 kg and occupies 15 square km