Thursday, 11 April 2013

Another Tiger Reserve soon to be tigerless in India

Big cats vanishing from Satkosia Tiger Reserve - Written by Siba Mohanty - Courtesy of Wildlife Protection Society of India
April 2013. Satkosia Tiger Reserve seems to be headed the same way as Sariska. Dwindling tiger signs and absence of breeding over the last two years have rung alarm bells for Odisha's second tiger reserve.

In the 2010 survey conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the tiger population was estimated at eight. A host of factors now indicates that even that low number may have declined drastically. Although the management of the tiger reserve is collecting tiger signs from the prime habitats, they have been declining and are discouraging to say the least.

Just 1-2 tigers left
According to sources, camera traps installed in the tiger reserve have shown some signs of the large cats, but the population is reported to have hit a nadir. Already designated a low tiger density reserve, the drop in population may push tigers into extinction in Satkosia soon. The number at present could well be just one or two and unless urgent measures are taken, there would be none left in near future.

‘'The tiger population does not seem to be thriving since there are no signs of cubs with mothers or even juveniles to suggest that breeding is taking place and the cycle is going on. This could be fatal to the population,'' said a source in Satkosia.

Prey animals aplenty
Interestingly, the prey base in the tiger habitat, which is connected to the tiger habitats of Central and Southern Odisha and onwards to the Central India tiger landscape, has improved over the last few years. The population of wild boar, spotted deer and sambhar has jumped significantly, but there has been no sign of an improvement in tiger population.

The Satkosia Reserve management too is aware of the impending crisis. "Prey base has improved and so has the habitat and there is no record of poaching but no sign of repopulation. It may have to do with the sex ratio of the existing population," said Field Director Pandav Behera.

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