Critical info on tiger habitats missing, say experts
Report does not mention how many of the tigers have been documented outside reserves; experts express concern over drop in occupancy levels in north-east as officials blame sampling methodUpdated: Jul 30, 2019 10:56 IST
The new tiger numbers are reason for cheer but experts say critical information on tiger habitat is missing in the summary report released on Monday.
The report doesn’t mention how many of the tigers have been documented outside tiger reserves, which will give crucial clues as to whether tiger corridors (used by the big cats to move around) are intact. This information is key to understanding the linkage between the source population of tigers and the sink population.
“Sink animals venture out of the reserves, they are in transit. The linkage between source and sink population is crucial. Tigers have hierarchical dynamics so these links are important for the health of the meta population,” said Rajesh Gopal, secretary general of Global Tiger Forum who says there are not more than 8 to 10% of tigers outside reserves.
In the 2014 estimation, around 28% of the tigers were found outside reserves. “We will get that data in a month’s time. There are tigers outside reserves in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand but in most other areas they are limited to reserves. We can give the exact number only in the final report,” said Anup Nayak, member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
The other concern is that in the northeast tiger occupancy has reduced by more than half. While NTCA officials said it was because of poor sampling, experts said it’s a sign of poor conservation. “Barring Brahmaputra floodplains and Dampa, the area is not suitable as such for tigers. But there are other issues also like money not being released on time by states for tiger survey and conservation, less security, and encroachments in some areas such as Nameri (Assam),” said Gopal.
YV Jhala, scientist at Wildlife Institute of India (WII) also confirmed loss of tigers from Chhattisgarh. “One reason is left wing extremism which makes access difficult; the other is actual loss of tigers from reserves like Achanakmar.” Some experts also said mining may have had a role to play by affecting tiger corridors in Chhattisgarh.
First Published: Jul 30, 2019 10:15 IST