The new tiger census’s estimate of an increase in India’s tiger population has brought into the forefront a fresh problem for the big cats in Kaziranga.
High tiger density and lack of habitats to move to is resulting in death of animals because of infighting and prey stress, says a report submitted by Tiger Research and Conservation Initiative, a body authorised by the environment ministry to monitor population in Kaziranga.
Kaziranga in Assam has the highest tiger density — about 34 in 100-sq km area. But the forests have not expanded to accommodate the tigers. The recent deaths of three tigers have alarmed conservationists.
As per the 2008 tiger census, India has 1,411 tigers. Sources say preliminary results of a new census to be announced soon put the number of tigers over 1,500.
Of the three tigers discovered dead in Kaziranga, the first one died of natural causes, the second possibly died of injuries caused by a buffalo. It was the third case of a female tiger that indicated at the emerging anomaly. The female tiger had moved about 25 km from where she was first camera trapped in 2009. Conservation biologist at the initiative Feroz Ahmed, ruled out poaching or poisoning as cause of the death.
His report, however, says, “As this is a high density area... I would expect more death in coming years mostly due to natural reasons as all subadult tigers are not able to establish a home range or go out of the park as there is hardly any habitat near the park that has a good prey base.”