At a time when alarm bells are ringing in the corridors of power in New Delhi and across reserve forests due to rapid depletion of tiger population, here's a positive development from Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
According to data compiled with help of satellite imagery, camera trapping and recording of pugmarks by the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, the country's first national park spread over 520 square kilometers has 112 tigers, the highest density recorded anywhere in the world.
A recent study carried out by WII in tiger reserves in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh using latest techniques had shown a 60 per cent decline in tiger population in these states. Wildlife experts say that ideally a tigress should have territory spread across 50 square kilometers and a tiger needs an area of 300 square kilometers, but in reserves like Corbett where there is no shortage of prey, it could be less.
"A reserve should have at least 20 such territories for the tiger population to thrive. While Sariska has only 5 such territories, Corbett has 50 of them," said Dr YB Jhala, senior scientist at WII.
He stated that the latest tiger census carried out in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh using 21 different kinds of data received through satellites show that there are 490 tigers in 16 reserve forest areas.
In contrast, previous census carried out using old techniques like counting of pugmarks had shown that there were 1233 tigers in these states. According to the new survey, Madhya Pradesh has 276 tigers, Maharashtra has 102, Rajasthan 32 and Chattisgarh has only 26 of them. A census carried out by Uttarakhand wildlife department in 2005 had stated that there were 241 tigers in the state —76 of them found outside reserve forests and the rest within reserve forest areas.
The census recorded that there were 92 tigers in Corbett — 10 cubs, 54 females and 28 males — one each for every 5.66 square kilometer area. Thirty more tigers were found in the buffer zone of the reserve forest.