Copious monsoon rains in forests, proposal for Megamalai tiger reserve and promising unexplored thickets are expected to boost tiger count in State, say experts.
Adding to the consideration of the Megamalai tiger reserve proposal and the promise of the unexplored thickets of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), the monsoon rains received in the protected forests is set to improve the tiger count in Tamil Nadu.
Talking about the prospects of tiger count increase, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shekhar Kumar Niraj said, “Tamil Nadu is one of the protected states with consistent rise in tiger population and there are fresh signs of tiger movement in Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and also along the south of Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary.”
Further, the State had last year sent a proposal seeking the declaration of Megamalai and its adjacent forests as a tiger reserve, to the Centre. Camera trap images have revealed that at least eight tigers are perambulating the area and we are confident of Tamil Nadu springing more surprises due to conducive wildlife conditions, the Director of Advanced Institute of Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) added.
However, Niraj, who had served as the head of Traffic at Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network warns the south Indian states to be cautious with their big cats as he said the international poaching mafia is constantly focused on the Nilgiris biosphere.
As per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) data, the tiger population in the country is observed to be increasing at a rate of 6 per cent per annum from 2006. Every four years since 2006, the Centre has been conducting a national census of tigers and other wildlife. In the case with Tamil Nadu, with a smaller number of poaching cases and better rainfall pattern in the past two years, the big cat population will further increase by at least 10 per cent, opines conservation scientist A Kumaraguru, member, Sathyamangalam Tiger Conservation Authority.
Further, there are unexplored areas in Sathyamangalam and Megamalai. The new camera traps and subsequent genetic studies will certainly lead the biologists to a new subsect population of tigers there, sources said. Also, the proposed fifth tiger reserve comprising the Srivilliputtur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary with the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and Varushanadu valley near Theni, will boost the big cat population further, Kumaraguru said.
With the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) corridor that connects Mudumalai – Mangalapatti – Thengumarada – Karachikorai – Bannari being an important corridor, this requires a constant conservation management strategy for the core and the buffer areas, Kumaraguru said, adding that the area has the scope to hold more tigers.
- Tamil Nadu, along with other southern states contribute to one third of the country’s total tiger population
- The latest survey in 2018 places the total tiger count in TN at 264, a three-fold rise from 76 in 2006
- Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, with nearly 90 tigers, bagged the award for excellence in recognition of annual increment in tiger population of more than 30 per cent, the highest in tiger landscape
- The four tiger reserves in the State are: Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve