Monday, 30th October 2017

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Pugmarks galore in Assam

Tiger population shows promise: report

  • Published 30.07.19, 1:12 AM
  • Updated 30.07.19, 1:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
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In Assam, the tiger population has increased from 167 to 190 while in Arunachal Pradesh it has increased by one, from 28 to 29. (Pic: Reuters)

The tiger population in the Northeast, barring Assam, has not shown much promise in the latest census.

The report of the fourth cycle of National Tiger Estimation 2018, released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on International Tiger Day on Monday, says the country has emerged as of one of the biggest and safest habitats for tigers in the world with the big cat population growing from 1,400 in 2014 to 2,977 in 2018. India conducts the all-India national tiger estimation every four years. The last three cycles were done in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

In the hills of the Northeast and the Brahmaputra landscape category, the estimated tiger population rose from to 219 in 2018. In Assam, the tiger population has increased from 167 to 190 while in Arunachal Pradesh it has increased by one, from 28 to 29. No tigers were reported in Mizoram and Nagaland. In 2014, three tigers were reported from Mizoram.

The report says the tiger population in Nameri (Assam), Pakke (Arunachal) and Dampa (Mizoram) tiger reserves have “registered declines” but does not give the figures.

It says in Arunachal, Mizoram and Nagaland, sampling could not be done with appropriate mark recapture method due to logistic constraints. “In these states we used confirmed tiger presence locations from tiger scats and opportunistic camera trap photos to model suitable tiger habitat. Minimal tiger density obtained from individually identified tigers within small intensively searched areas was used to provide a crude estimate of tiger numbers in these states,” it says. The scats technique, used in the 2018 tiger census, involves collecting faeces for genetic sampling and estimating the big cat population. It was used in uneven terrain and insurgency-hit areas where camera installation is impossible. The report says the poor show in the Northeast is due to poor sampling and also suggests immediate conservation action.

It also says the forests occupied by tigers has decreased from 9,901 square km in 2014 to 3,312 square km in 2018.

Qamar Qureshi of Wildlife Institute of India, which helped prepare the report, said some areas were not doing well while in some others sampling was not carried out properly.

Firoz Ahmed, wildlife biologist of Aaranyak, said, “We are not focusing on tiger conservation in NE hills, which is a larger challenge. Agencies and most civil societies are focusing on well-performing tiger reserves. Although the hills of the Northeast cannot support large population of tigers, the forests are the key to water security and other ecosystems essential for tigers.”

The report says Buxa tiger reserve in Bengal and Dampa can be repopulated by introducing big cats from Kaziranga after prey restoration in Buxa and strengthening protection in Dampa which has a good prey base.