Tiger numbers: Red alert issued
Imran Khan First Published : 16 Feb 2009 04:28:00 AM IST Last Updated : 16 Feb 2009 08:38:25 AM
ISTBANGALORE: The fact that 10 tigers fell prey to poachers in the last three months has prompted National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to issue a red alert across 17 states. According to NTCA, there are some wandering gangs, which are targeting tiger reserves. However, Karnataka forest officials have allayed all apprehensions.
When asked about the red alert that has been issued a senior official of the forest department said that,”There is no such threat to the tigers in the state but we will follow whatever directions are issued.” He said that circa 2002-03 poaching was perpetrated by spardi tribals from Madhya Pradesh but after them “there has been no poaching threat.” Tiger expert Ullas Karanth, too echoed the officials’s sentiments and branded the red alert as ‘routine’ and “one more added to several advisories issued over the years”.
Further throwing light on the issue, he said that: “I have no idea if there is a spurt in poaching or not but given the fact that almost 90 per cent of potential tiger habitat in the country is devoid of tigers is owing to depletion of their prey (food) by local village hunters rather than direct poaching. This key issue requires more sustained attention than periodic red alerts about tiger poaching.”
K’taka not in 17 states’ list
Interestingly, Karnataka does not figure in the list of 17 states where NTCA has sounded the red alert. Karnataka has 22,000 square kilometres of potential tiger habitat of which only about 40 per cent seems to have tiger presence now. Depletion of prey in the remaining 60 per cent area is being attributed as the reason for the disappearing numbers of the big cat.
Tiger populations that breed and produce some surpluses are confined to Nagarhole- Bandipur tract primarily, but populations seem to be recovering also in Bhadra, Kudremukh and Anshi Dandeli.
Of the 1,400 tigers left in the country, there are around 200-250 adult tigers in Karnataka.