Home to India’s second highest tiger population, Uttarakhand has recorded a massive jump in the tiger numbers with the Corbett Tiger Reserve becoming home to 45 more tigers since 2015 and the Rajaji Tiger Reserve having 18 more big cats than were recorded in the 2014 tiger census.
According to the results of the phase IV monitoring for the year 2016-17 that were released by the forest department on 26 July 2017, the minimum tiger population in the Corbett Tiger Reserve increased from 163 in 2015 to 208 tigers and six cubs. In the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, the minimum tiger population increased from 16 tigers in 2014 to 34, besides five cubs.
Dr Yadvendradev V Jhala, a wildlife scientist at the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) who was one of the lead authors in the 2014 tiger census, said, “Normally, the maximum increase in tiger population recorded per annum is around 6-8 percent. However, the results for Uttarakhand tiger reserves show a huge jump.”
State Chief Wildlife Warden Digvijay Singh Khati said, “Camera traps (535 for Corbett and 562 for Rajaji) were used for the monitoring that began in November last year and lasted for about two-three months.”
According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority rules, the phase IV monitoring must be conducted each year. However, it was not conducted for 2015-2016 in the two tiger reserves. Khati did not reply to the lapse in tiger monitoring for 2015-16.
Dr Jhala said, “The phase IV monitoring was not done for 2015-16. While the forest department must be held accountable for the lapse, no norms demanding accountability exist.”
Uttarakhand has the country’s second highest tiger population after Karnataka, according to the 2014 tiger census. (Indian Express)