In the last four years, the estimated tiger population in the state of Karnataka has gone up by 100 up to 524. But this year it lost its prestigious “tiger state” tag to Madhya Pradesh by a very narrow margin of 2. The All India Tiger Estimation Report released by PM Modi recently states that Madhya Pradesh has 526 tigers. The state of Uttarakhand with 442 tigers is in the third spot.
Encouraging Growth Of 29% In Number Of Big Cats In Karnataka
The principal chief conservator of forests, Karnataka, Punati Sridhar said, “We did our best to manage forests, protected areas, and parks which helped the number of tigers to increase. Good tiger numbers indicate an excellent ecosystem. From 406 in the year 2014 to 524 now is a 29% increase. This is encouraging.”
On losing the tag narrowly to Madhya Pradesh Punati said, “If we look at the minimum estimated numbers, Karnataka has 475 tigers and MP 441. These numbers are, perhaps, based on the actual images captured.” It should be noted that for around a decade Karnataka was the top tiger state. The population of the big cats was declared to be 300 by the 2010-11 census.
According to Sanjay Gubbi, a wildlife biologist, there is still a lot of scope for improving the tiger population in Karnakata. While stressing on the importance of conserving the existing population of the big cats, he said, “There are lots of reserved forests which continue to hold tigers in very low densities.
This is true for Hassan, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Belagavi districts. If these areas are provided adequate protection, tiger numbers could increase. Also, there is scope for younger individuals from areas that have attained ecological capacities to move and establish territories in new areas.”
Managing Tiger-Human Conflict Is Big Challenge
With the increase in the tiger density, the forest department is facing a big challenge of managing tiger-human conflict. Punati added, “We’ve been managing the conflicts by creating conditions for maintaining the required prey-predator base by managing vibrant forests, ecosystems, and grasslands.”
According to Gubbi methodical approach is the key to managing conflict needs. He added, “It is best to proactively stop conflicts from escalating. Conflicts cannot be brought to zero, but have to be brought down to tolerable limits.”
Even though there has been an increase in tiger population by about 30%, the big cats still face serious threats due to illegal transnational trade in wildlife which according to Interpol is more than $20 billion.