Kaziranga protects tiger corridors, boosts big cats' count

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Kaziranga protects tiger corridors, boosts big cats count

Latest estimates show 104 tigers in the reserve

By CP Surendran

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Published: Sun 18 Jun 2017, 3:01 PM

Last updated: Sun 18 Jun 2017, 5:07 PM

The Kaziranga Tiger Reserve is some 250 kilometers from Guwahati, capital of Assam. The Tiger Reserve is one happy place for the big cats. Latest estimates show that there are 104 tigers in the Kaziranga National Park and Burachapori. In 2014, there were only 83. One important way by which this has been achieved is by protecting the tiger corridors in the forest. This is a bit of a challenge because illegal mining activities are common along the Karbi Anglong area, a tiger habitat.
But, of late these mining activities and accompanying encroachment attempts have been somewhat controlled, and the results show.
While 95 adult tigers were found in Kaziranga National Park, two adult tigers and their cubs were found in Burachapori. Both the parks are located within the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, an area of 860 sq km. With 104 tigers, the big cat density in Kaziranga has been found to be 21 tigers per 100 sq km.
Tiger is India's national animal, often appropriated by political parties like the Shiva Sena to show they are both nationalist and aggressive. Though no political party has done any exemplary work in tiger protection and preservation of tiger habitats, the government on the whole has been proactive in the task. India's tiger population is around 2,500.
Assam runs one of the most successful tiger preservation programmes. The state has four tiger reserves - Kaziranga, Manas, Orang and Nameri. Orang has 28 tigers and the highest tiger density in the country with 35.44 tigers per 100 sq km. In Manas, which is also a World Heritage Site, 30 tigers were found per 100 sq km in last month's estimate. The latest figures for the other two reserves are yet to come.
There are other states in India which too do a good job. Uttar Pradesh has 117 tigers, but has a much larger area than Assam to breed them. Uttarakhand tops the list with 340 tigers. West Bengal has 79 tigers.
But Kaziranga's unique achievement is that they are able to protect better, and breed the tiger population faster. One reason for this is that there is a healthy supply of preys that the predators can feed on. The authorities have also succeeded in minimizing the conflict between humans and tigers. As a result, poaching is rare. India is home to 70 per cent of the world's tiger population.
Recently, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said: "We are taking a historic decision to protect tiger corridors. We will incentivize project proponents to give land for compensatory afforestation in tiger corridors. By such measures over the years, we can free the tiger corridors and these will become forest land."
The minister said the Project Tiger budget has been raised from Rs185 crore to Rs380 crore. With the 60:40 participation of states, this increase translates to Rs500 crore per year for tiger protection.
Though the big cats of Kaziranga do not understand ministerial announcements and budgets, these days they are a happier lot since they see more of each other.

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