Silchar, Feb. 19: The tiny hill state of Mizoram, famed for its exotic wildlife, now has to reckon with the gradual depletion of its once abundant number of tigers in its lone tiger reserve in Dampa, two national parks and four wildlife sanctuaries.
According to Laltlanhua, the field director of the Dampa tiger reserve, 127km from Aizawl, the last tiger census conducted by the state forest and environment department in 2010 has placed the number in that 500 square km-wide sanctuary at only five.
But wildlife enthusiasts in the state rued that at least six other tigers inhabiting Dampa and other forest habitats have either been killed by poachers or died a natural death during the past few years.
Laltlanhua said his department was now in the process of framing a tiger conservation strategy to prevent poaching and simultaneously ensuring the increase of its population.
The measures include among others the increase in number of the forest guards in Dampa tiger reserve and using camera traps to monitor the movements of tigers.
Laltlanhua, speaking to The Telegraph over phone from Aizawl recently, said camera trapping in the state’s tiger reserve could not become much effective as “Dampa’s topography is immensely difficult for mounting the cameras on its hills where the tree lines are thick, and hence it cannot beam accurate pictures”.
The Aaranyak laboratory in Guwahati has been asked by the Mizoram government to render help to its forest and environment department for initiating a survey in the state and then draw up suggestions as to how the tigers in Dampa could be constantly monitored by the forest staff.
Sources in the forest and environment department in Mizoram admitted that the number of the forest officials in Dampa tiger reserve is “woefully short” and proposals have been placed to the forest higher-ups in Aizawl for increasing their number in a bid to ensure the proper preservation of wildlife.
At present, the officials said there were only two rangers, five foresters and three forest guards in Dampa. According to them, such a depleted number of officials is not enough to ensure the safety and proper upkeep of the animals. The iron fences along the Indo-Bangla border, stret-ching for 62km, hinder free movement of tigers at Dampa.
The Dampa tiger reserve was constituted by a state government notification in 1994. It is the habitat of leopards, elephants, Indian bison, barking deer, sloth bear, gibbons, langurs, slow loris, rhesus macaque and a variety of birds.