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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tiger population poised to rise in Sathyamangalam

TNN | Mar 20, 2012, 06.22AM IST COIMBATORE: The tiger population in Sathyamangalam forests, which will in all likelihood be declared a tiger reserve soon, is stable and poised for further increase, a just concluded wildlife census revealed. According to Sathyamangalam Divisional Forest Officer N Sathish, the survey confirmed that the tiger population in the area is between 18 and 25. The wildlife census, which began on Friday, concluded on Sunday evening. The census was being conducted with the participation of volunteers of Coimbatore based NGO OSAI, students of Bannariamman Institute of Technology, SEWA voluntary organization in Erode and wildlife enthusiasts. According to him, modern equipment including laser range finders was used for enumeration of wild animals. The surveyors also adopted line-transect direct count, carnivore sign survey, dung count and waterhole count systems to take stock of the animals. According to Sathish, an itemized list of animals would be brought out later after merging data collected by different groups. ``The presence of tigers was confirmed in many areas. In Kettuvadi and Bijilatti, bodies of deer killed by tigers were found. Marks left by tigers on some trees were also documented. Cameras have been installed in various parts of the forest to capture images of tigers,'' he said. According to Sathish, the enumerators found large herds of elephants inside the forest and their number count is around 800. The area is one of the largest havens for Asiatic elephants, he said. The surveyors also found cheetahs, jackals and bears inside the forest. ''A healthy prey base, our strict vigil in forests, conservation efforts and reduction of cattle population in the forest fringes have yielded positive results in Sathyamangalam,'' he said when asked about the growing population of animals. ``Once it gets tiger reserve status, there would be total habitat improvement. There would be projects that would help not only the tigers but also the entire flora and fauna of the region. It is home to one fourth of the elephants in the state. Sathyamangalam is also a migratory path for over 6,000 Asiatic elephants which move from the Nilgiris to Bandipur in Karnataka,'' Sathish said. It also has a large number of black bucks and hyenas.

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