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Monday, April 2, 2012

MP gets ready to regain lost TIGER STATE tag

SUNDAY, 01 APRIL 2012 23:56 ZAFAR ALAM KHAN HITS: 186 Good news for wildlife lovers! The tiger population in Madhya Pradesh is on rise. This central State, which is striving hard to regain its lost 'tiger State' tag, is full of reports of tiger cub births from all its corners. This has raised hopes that it would soon acquire its lost honour. There have been reports of tiger cub births from various national parks, tiger reserves and other places in the State. There are reports of over five dozen tiger cub births in the State since the last tiger census took place in 2011. The most amazing report came from the State capital where a tigress was spotted with her two cubs in Kerwa Forest on March 27 this year. It seems as if Mother Nature, too, has showered Madhya Pradesh with its blessings since it lost its label of 'tiger State' last year. After reports of tiger cub births from Panna Tiger Reserve, Kanha Tiger Reserve and Pench Tiger Reserve, good news came from unexpected quarters, the State capital where a tigress was seen roaming with her two cubs earlier this week. There have been reports of over five dozen tiger cub births from various national parks, tiger reserves and other places of the State after the last tiger census took place in 2011. Amazingly, a tigress was spotted with her two cubs in the Kerwa Forest area near the State capital, a senior forest official said. The photograph of the tigress with her two cubs was captured through the camera-trap method, Chief Conservator Forest (CCF), Bhopal Circle, SS Rajput, said, adding that some forest officials have seen the tigress with her two cubs. "Though the tigress remained elusive, images of the two cubs have been captured on cameras installed in the jungles to locate the tigress and a tiger that have frequently strayed in the area," he added. The cubs are about two-and-a-half months old. Forest officials spotted pugmarks of the cubs and the tigress around a week ago in the forests near Kerwa. Subsequently, the officials got the photos of the two cubs. Since last year, the tigress has made the Kerwa forest area her territory. It probably arrived here from the nearby Ratapani forest range, the department sources said. Rajput said that a male tiger was also roaming there and its pugmarks were also spotted in the area. Sometime back, the staff of the National Judicial Academy also saw a tiger on their campus after which an alert was sounded. Signboards were put up at various places in the forest to warn people about the presence of a tiger in the surrounding areas. It appears that the off-springs arrived after these two big cats mated probably in the month of September last year, Rajput said. The cubs are nearly two-and-a-half months old and healthy, the CCF added. Meanwhile, the Panna Reserve of the State that gained notoriety for the mysterious disappearance of its big cats is also home to tiger cubs once again, rejoicing in the success of its unique translocation experiment to revive their population. "The tiger reserve has a dozen cubs and five adult tigers since the launch of an experiment involving breeding of translocated wild cats and rehabilitation of orphaned cubs," Panna Tiger Reserve director RS Murthy said. The reserve has four female and one male tigers and all of them have adjusted well to their new environment. The number of tiger cubs in other reserves across the State is also rising. At present, Kanha Tiger Reserve has 21-23 tiger cubs while the Pench Tiger Reserve boasts of having another 21 or more. "We have 21-23 tiger cubs in different age groups wandering with their mothers in the forest," Kanha Tiger Reserve director JS Chouhan said. Kanha now has nearly 70 or more tigers in the wild, as per official figures. Pench Tiger Reserve director Alok Kumar said that in the year 2010-11, nearly 21 tiger cubs were sighted by the forest staff in different zones of the reserve. They are in the age group of 5-6 months to over one year, Kumar said. A tiger is normally considered adult when it attains the age of two-and-a-half years and also when it starts living away from its mother. The last tiger census of Madhya Pradesh stood at 257 while in Karnataka the count was 300 following which the central State lost its coveted 'tiger State' status to the southern counterpart. Madhya Pradesh objected to the figures released by the Wildlife Institute of India and National Tiger Conservation Authority after which the big cats were again recounted in Kanha tiger reserve, a senior forest official said. In order to find out the exact number of tigers in the country, the NTCA has decided to conduct tiger census every year in the tiger reserves and in other forest areas every four years, the official said. The State has Pench, Panna, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Satpuda and Sanjay Dubri tiger reserves. After the last tiger census in 2011, the population of big cat was estimated at 1,706 in the country. According to the census, the tiger population in Madhya Pradesh dropped to 257 from 300 in 2006. There was a 12 per cent rise in the number of big cats in the country in 2011 but Madhya Pradesh lost its 'tiger State' status to Karnataka. A forest official said, "The decline in the tiger population of the State was mainly due to the loss of 24 tigers allegedly due to poaching in Panna tiger reserve which had as many striped animals in the year 2006." He also said that Kanha Tiger Reserve, too, lost more than 25 tigers. In 2006, it had 89 tigers which has now dipped to 60, according to the latest census. "But now with reports of tiger cub births coming in from various parts of the State, we are sure that very soon the State would regain its lost status," he added. The last tiger census report released on March 28 last year stated that the striped animal population has risen to 1,707 from 1,411 in 2006. A forest official said if only 50 per cent of these cubs survive Madhya Pradesh would surely be a tiger State again. Ministerspeak! Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Sartaj Singh said that the State is and would remain a tiger State. "The census conducted by the Centre was faulty. We did not go with that and conducted our own census the findings of which could not be disclosed, this being not an official census, but we are confident that we are still a tiger State," Singh told Viva City. "After the next census, we would officially regain the tiger State tag as we have the most tigers in the country. Moreover, reports of tiger cubs births in large numbers from different parts of the State would further the cause," Singh said.

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