Tiger census in the offing

Tiger census in the offing

Statesman News Service

KOLKATA, July 4: A tiger census in Sundarbans is in the offing. The census, which will take place in November comes against the backdrop of conflicting reports about the exact number of big cats in the world’s largest mangrove forest.

As per the last census conducted in 2005, there were 344 tigers in the Sunderbans, but a section of the media reported that the number was dwindling, the state forest minister, Mr Ananta Roy informed the state Assembly today.

During his reply to the debate on the budgetary demands for grants for his department, Mr Roy said that radio collars fitted on tigers sometimes malfunctioned because of saline water seeping in when they swim across rivers in Sunderbans.

Mr Ashish Banerjee, Trinamul Congress MLA from Rampurhat earlier asked why the tagging of tigers by means of radio collar had failed in Sundarbans and how much loss the department has to incur?

The minister said that the manufacturer of the radio collars had been contacted and advice sought on correcting the snag.

He said the latest census reports indicated that there were 12 to 18 tigers in the Buxa tiger reserve against seven reported previously. The minister also said that the elephant population had gone up to between 350-400 in North Bengal.

He said his department has decided to erect nylon net fencing around the outer fringes of the Sunderbans to prevent tigers from entering the villages.

The minister was replying to the allegations made by Dr Manas Bhuinya, CLP leader, and Mr Banerjee that forest department has totally failed to protect wild life and also villagers from the clutches of tigers and elephants.

Mr Banerjee cited as examples the reports of how, recently, a tiger had entered into the kitchen of a village woman and a crocodile strayed into a village pond.

Mr Roy said that it has been proposed that the state forest department would set up a rehabilitation centre at Mayurjharna for proper protection of the pachyderms in Ajodhya hills in Purulia district and to stop them from coming down to the plains.

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