Here is some bad news for wildlife lovers. Bihar's Valmiki National Park, the state's sole tiger reserve, has just 13 tigers left; down from the 56 big cats it had seven years ago, a survey said.
"Hardly 13 tigers exist in the Valmiki National Park," said the survey recently submitted by Dehradun's Wildlife Institute of India.
A forest official associated with the reserve said the latest survey showed that the tiger population has come down to 13 - a sharp dip from 30 tigers in 2005, and over 50 tigers till 2002-2003.
"The population of tigers has come down like never before," the official said.
According to a wildlife department official, the tiger numbers decreased drastically in the last eight years in the park, located in West Champaran district near the Nepal border.
According to a recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), at least 23 big cats disappeared from the reserve in the last three years. The CAG report said that the number of tigers had declined to 33 in 2005 from 56 in 2002.
Neither the officials of the Valmiki National Park nor the state government has any information about the missing tigers.
The Valmiki National Park is regarded as one of the best-maintained tiger reserves in the country. But of late the reserve has become a haven for poachers.
Top officials of the wildlife department are tightlipped and refuse to say anything about the number of tigers in the reserve.
The National Tiger Conservation in 2007 had asked Bihar to constitute a Tiger Protection Force. "A dedicated protection force was to be set up with retired army personnel to stop poaching at the Valmiki National Park but it is still on paper," an official said.