Friday, 14 March , 2008, 13:26
Chennai: The tiger population in Tamil Nadu has increased while it had been dwindling in most parts of the country.
Latest figures show the tiger population in the Mudumalai Reserved Forest in Tamil Nadu could be between 62 and 80, whereas in Kalakkad-Mundanthurai and Topslip in Pollachi would vary between six and eight, Dr K Sankar, Coordinator, Tiger Monitoring Programme, said.
As per previous census figures, the tiger count in the state was estimated to be 70.
Policy planning, better participation and forest protection by the officials and public, habitat improvement, consistent monitoring and ecological awareness programmes had led to the increase in the number of wild cats in the state, Sankar said.
Additional research programmes that were taken up in Tamil Nadu, which helped in the systematic monitoring and perambulation by the forest department, also contributed to the increase in population.
Another important factor was that in the earlier censuses the animal count was arrived at by the number of sightings of pugmarks, which was not an accurate method. However, in the latest census a more scientific method of camera trapping was adopted that helped in getting a more realistic data.
Sankar said the census work started in February 2006 in Tamil Nadu. “We have done a revalidation of the Phase-I of the census conducted by the State Forest Department.
“Camera trapping was done at select places to supplement the census done by the local officials,” he said.
“As far as tiger population is concerned, southern India is not that disturbing as North and North-Eastern states,” the official said.
Recently tiger census was conducted by Tamil Nadu Forest and Wild Animal Department officials with the help of 150 university students at the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tirunelveli district.
The reserve is situated in the Western Ghats, bound by forests in the west, north and south and by villages in the east.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 came into force in the state in 1974 under which all the existing reserves were deemed as sanctuaries.
The entire Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Forest was notified as a sanctuary in 1976.
Kalakad is also famous for the endangered lion tailed monkeys in large numbers.
The number of tigers in India has plummeted to around 1,411, nearly half the previous estimate, according to a government survey.
As per the previous census carried out in 2001 and 2002, there were 3,642 tigers.
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