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MP tiger count was flawed, says ministry

delhi Updated: Jul 29, 2011 00:17 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The government on Wednesday admitted of possible flaw in the tiger estimation 2010 with new survey in Madhya Pradesh projecting higher big cat population as against the estimation announced in March 2011.

The Madhya Pradesh government had objected to tiger population in the state falling to 257 in 2010 from 300 in 2006 and sought another survey of the six tiger reserves in the state.

"Our preliminary study has found higher tiger population than projected in the estimation," said P R Sinha, Director of Wildlife Institute of India. "The new estimate will be part of the next year's tiger census".

Karnataka's additional principal conservator of forests M S Swaminathan also questioned the estimation saying that if tiger reserves in the state have been rated very good on the 30 performance indices how the increase in big cat population is much less than the national average.

The national average is about 20 % whereas in case of Karnataka

Performance evaluation of tiger reserves

Very good: Annamalai, Bandhavgarh, Bandipur, Bhadra, Dangeli-Ansi, Kalakad-Mundanthurai, Kanha, Kaziranga, Mudumalai, Parambikulam, Pench (MP), Periyar, Satpura and Sunderbans

Good: Buxa, Corbett, Dampa, Dudhwa, Manas, Melghat, Nagarhole, Pakke, Pench (Maharashtra), Ranthambore, Tadoba-Andhari

Satisfactory: Achanakmar, Nameri, Namdapha, Sanjay, Sayadari and Valmiki

Poor: Satkosia.

As compared to 2006, there is overall improvement in performance of tiger reserves in India with population rising to 1,706 from 1,411 and poaching cases going down.

the increase in tiger population was only just five. "Does the government of India wants to say that 30 to 40 tigers have vanished from the state," he said.

The WII now says that Buxa tiger reserve in northern West Bengal have 15 tigers whereas no figure was presented in the estimation report.

Pointing another flaw in the estimation, former director of Project Tiger P K Sen said nine tigers were caught on camera trap in Valimki tiger reserve in Chhattisgarh but only eight have been recorded in the estimation.

Several tiger experts have doubted the increase in tiger population from 1,411 in 2006 to 1,706 in 2011 despite tiger habitat falling by 12 %. However, V Y Jhala of WII rubbished the claims saying that 81,000 sq kms of tiger land can sustain a population of 1700 tigers, more than half of total tigers in the world.

"If we have to improve tiger population connectivity between different tiger reserves should improve…the biggest loss in tiger habitat has been of the peripheral forest area," Jhala said, while presenting a detailed report on Tiger Estimation 2010.

Another WII scientist V B Mathur made a presentation on performance of 39 tiger reserves in India. Of them 14 were labeled as very good, 11 as good, six as satisfactory and one poor.

"There is a four percent improvement in management of tiger reserves since 2006," he said, while highlighting the issue of 30 % vacant posts of frontline forest-staff as a major challenge in improving the performance further.