Tiger tops endangered list at Kaziranga
Centre to fund big cat conservation, rhino reaches ‘safe zone’ with 2000 mark
A STAFF REPORTER
Issue Date: Thursday , September 3 , 2009
Guwahati, Sept. 2: The rhino is safe. The tiger is not.
The Royal Bengal Tiger has pushed its one-horned co-inhabitant of Kaziranga National Park to the second spot in the list of wildlife conservation priority in the state.
The park’s director, S.N. Buragohain, today said the rhino was now “safe” with a healthy population and the priority had shifted to the big cat which topped the endangered list.
He said this was the prime reason why three tiger foundations had been formed in the three tiger habitations in the state — Manas, Kaziranga and Nameri national parks. The directors of the three parks will head the foundations.
“Now we will receive funds directly from the Centre to protect the Royal Bengal tiger,” Buragohain said.
The last census conducted nearly a decade back had found 86 tigers in Kaziranga.
Buragohain said they had “a fairly good population” of Royal Bengal tigers now but it was not enough. “These animals are yet not as visible as the rhino although it is also because of the thick forest cover at Kaziranga. Besides, unlike the rhino, the tiger hardly comes out in the open,” he added.
Kaziranga lost seven tigers this year. Poachers allegedly killed two while the others died of infighting and poisoning by villagers residing in the periphery of the park.
Buragohain said like the rhino, the Assam forest department had taken a pledge to conserve the tiger.
“We have achieved our goal in protecting the rhino. The population has crossed a healthy 2,000 figure mark from a mere 50-odd during the fifties,” he said.
Kaziranga had received funds from the Centre since 1980 to protect the rhino. The funding was stopped a few years ago after the rhino population reached the “safe zone”.
Buragohain, however, clarified that the efforts to protect the rhino would continue since the animal had a sentimental attachment with Assam.
He said not only the tiger and the rhino, the Kaziranga authorities would never fail in their efforts to protect all the denizens of the park. “We need to protect all the animals to maintain a well-balanced eco system,” he added.
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