Express news service
National wildlife agencies have hinted that Karnataka may regain its top spot among the tiger states, overtaking Madhya Pradesh. Currently, with 524 tigers, Karnataka is only two behind the MP, and since the last census in 2018, some tiger areas in the state are seeing phenomenal growth in tiger populations.
As MP has a larger area, the tiger population density in Karnataka is higher. While a tiger needs at least 10 km² for its territory, in Karnataka a tiger is 5 to 6 km² and in some areas as small as 3 km², which explains the higher rates of conflict.
The 2018 census recorded 524 tigers in Karnataka, and an increase of 5-10% is estimated. But the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) says the MP has shown better relocation work as Karnataka has moved conflicting tigers to rehabilitation centers instead of areas with fewer tiger populations.
Karnataka conservation activists and forestry officials say tiger numbers may increase as the Kali landscape in Uttara Kannada district and the MM Hills / Cauvery landscape in Ramanagara and Chamarajanagar districts will add to the population. In addition, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, with the highest concentration of tigers, could register more than 200 tigers in the next census.
NTCA experts, who recognize Nilgiri’s 12,000 km² biosphere spread across three states – connecting Mudumalai, Wayanad, Bandipur and Nagarhole, and home to the largest populations of tigers and elephants – as the richest landscape in the world. world, say development work around occupied forest areas in potential tiger reserve areas will affect the tiger population.
The Senior Chief Conservator of Forests of Karnataka, (Wildlife) Vijay Kumar Gogi says that the total forest area of Karnataka is 36 lakh hectares, of which the area under five tiger reserves is four lakh hectares. “While we hope to see an increase in the tiger population, we are working to improve the habitat and the prey base. The census figures also take into account the death rate, injured and captured animals and habitat. We have high focal points like Bandipur and Nagarhole, but there is a lot of potential in the Kali, Bhadra, MM Hills, Kollegal and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, ”he says.
He points out that as Karnataka is home to a healthy breeding population and new stripe patterns are factored into camera traps, habitat shrinkage, pressure and change on land use, l Increased cultivation by drip irrigation, agricultural activities within forest areas are a matter of concern.
TIGERS IN NON-TIGERATED ZONES
It is estimated that 30% of Karnataka tigers roam outside tiger reserves and national parks. Forest plots in Haliyal, Yellapur, Sirsi, Sakleshpur, Khanapur, Bannerghatta and Bisle have recorded the presence of tigers in recent camera traps by Forest Department officials. They say now is the time to focus on the territorial divisions of Ramanagara, Bhadra, Kali and Sakleshpur where tiger signs and potential sightings have been reported.
YV Jhala, scientist and tiger census coordinator at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), said the census will be carried out using the M-Stripe app. “All data will be counted and included digitally. This is done to ensure that the data is correct. The last time, when the manually collected data was tabulated, there were errors in the coordinates of the global positioning system (GPS), ”he says.
“Even though valuation of camera traps is the most accurate, ideal and reliable form of valuation, it cannot be done on its own due to the cost factor involved,” he says. The assessment is different because this time not only the tiger prey base is assessed and counted, but even the leopard and elephant populations.
“Now the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) must make the final decision to publish a collated report or publish three separate reports,” he adds.
DELAY AND PROBLEMS
Forestry Department officials said the exercise was delayed due to bugs and technical issues in the M-Stripe app. They say there were many discrepancies in the compilation of the data, and the application did not include many local species and was not computer friendly.
NTCA officials say based on the comments, appropriate corrections have been made and the census should be done once every four years. “The exercise should have started in 2021, but work on the camera traps themselves began in October 2021. The central government is also keen to present the report to the St. Petersburg summit, scheduled for November 2022. It is also possible that the report will be published. in July on International Tiger Day, ”says a Forest official.
Praveen Bhargav, curator of wildlife and administrator of Wildlife First, says estimating tiger numbers has become the monopoly of the WII. This stifling of independent scientific research is reprehensible. Eminent scientists who developed sampling-based techniques for estimating tigers have found that extrapolating the number of tigers using WII’s index calibration methodology is not scientifically reliable, he believes.
“To block rigorous scrutiny, the WII did not release raw data despite spending huge sums of public money. These cast a shadow over WII’s estimates. The tiger’s range has shrunk due to development projects, encroachments and the rampant granting of rights under the Forest Rights Act. Not one hectare of critical wildlife habitat that can cope with these threats has yet been reported. Tiger reserve budgets have exploded for destructive but “lucrative” earthworks based on unscientific management plans. For any improvement, these need to be addressed urgently, ”he said.
K Ullas Karanth, Director Emeritus, Center for Wildlife Studies, Bengaluru, says: “The 2010, 2014, 2018 Tiger Surveys continued to increase these save numbers, using different statistical methods each time, claiming a successful ascent. from the beginning. to 3000 or more! This numbers game does not reflect true accomplishments, because if you consider that there were around 2,000 tigers in the 1970s when tiger conservation took off, it still reflects a tiny annual growth rate of less than 1 %. Suffice it to say, we can only aspire to a maximum of 3,500 tigers.