Around 35%-40% of tigers in India live outside the protected areas, but their movement could get restricted as many wildlife corridors are in a bad condition, said the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
The computation of big cat population inside and outside the reserves was a part of the 2014 tiger estimation that found 2,226 tigers in 92,000 sq km as compared to 81,000 sq km in 2010.
In Maharashtra, 74 of the 170 tigers are outside protected regions. They were found in new areas around the Todaba and Pench reserves, leading to an increase in man-animal conflict. According to the WII, connectivity between wildlife corridors in the state was threatened by infrastructure development, plantations and industrialisation.
Similarly in Karnataka, around 38% of the 406 tigers are estimated to be in the fringe and buffer zones of protected areas. The impact could be visible in Nagarhole tiger reserves, where at least five incidents of tigers attacking cattle in nearby villages have been reported. However, the WII applauded relocation of villages that has led to an improvement in tiger habitat.
The WII also added that tiger populations in high humandominated areas, as seen around Tadoba and Bor in Maharashtra, Uttarakhand’s Corbett National Park, Rajasthan’s Ranthambore and Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh, has increased human tiger conflict.
Corbett also has a sizeable population outside the core area — in recent years, this has led to a tiger’s killing. State government officials said CCTV cameras, called ‘eye in the sky’, have been set up around fringe areas to monitor the tiger population moving out of the core area.
Ullas K Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society argued for the revival of green corridors that make movement easier for tigers from high-density habitats to lesser ones.