MoEF approves tiger conservation plan for State

Big scope for increasing big cat population in new areas: Experts
Last Updated 20 January 2015, 21:07 IST

 The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), on Tuesday, approved the tiger conservation plan for Karnataka, which has the highest number of 406 tigers in the country as per the 2014 tiger census report. The report was released on Tuesday.

To strengthen conservation in Karnataka, the MoEF has approved Tiger Conservation Plan for Nagarahole, Bandipur, Bhadra and Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple (BRT) tiger reserves.

Approval for the Anshi-Dandeli will take some time. This will help minimise conflicts, strengthen conservation and improve habitat. Under this, strengthening buffer zones, core areas and corridors is incorporated. Corridors have also been identified for improvement under the new conservation plan like Nagarahole-

Kudremukh, Nagarahole-Bhadra and Bhadra-Dandeli, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Vinay Luthra told Deccan Herald over phone from New Delhi, where he attended the related meetings.

Bandipur and Nagarahole have already reached their carrying capacity of 12-18 tigers per 100 sq km. The potential areas are Cauvery wildlife sanctuary (WS), MM Hills, Bhimgad, Anshi and Dandeli. Some new areas like Kudremukh, Someshwara and Mookambika are promising. Here, carrying capacity is 2-3 tigers per 100 sq km. In case of Bhadra and BRT, it is 10 per 100 sq km, Luthra explained.

Says Dr V B Mathur, Director of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII): “The new census report is more accurate as over 70 per cent of the tigers in 43 reserves are photographed. A management effectiveness evaluation framework report was released along with the census report. This shows 79 per cent operation management in Karnataka, though the State lagged behind Madhya Pradesh.

Reserves were judged on 31 indicators like tourism and information management and core area protection. It shows a need for frontline strengthening with more guards, better training and being equipped.”

Tiger scientist Ullas Karanth said: As many as 406 tigers within its specified upper and lower limits may not be unreasonable. Wildlife Conservation Society camera trap estimates covering major source population suggest about 350 or so tigers over one year of age in key areas. The statistical extrapolations always will have some variability.

“In Karnataka, we can potentially have double this number, provided, we can provide the level we have in Nagarahole-Bandipur to new areas like Anshi-Dandeli, Kudremukh and Cauvery-MM Hills. There is no doubt that the State Forest department has worked very hard in recent years for tiger protection, and we are seeing the results.

I think the key to future success is constructive collaborations between government and conservationists with focus on strict protection, substantially scaled up voluntary village relocation and scientifically sound ecological and management audits.

According to conservationists and officials, Karnataka tops globally too. There are 13 tiger countries and India houses 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population, with 30 per cent of this is in Karnataka.

Other countries like Russia and China do not have more than 100 in the wild; bigger population exists in Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, but not like Karnataka. The Western Ghats patch - Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa - now houses 776 tigers, making it the richest and most densely tiger populated landscape globally.

(Published 20 January 2015, 21:07 IST)

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