Maharashtra has 169 tigers, substantial increase in 4 yrs

Mumbai: Maharashtra has a tiger population of 169 as per the latest count, the state legislative assembly was informed here on Wednesday.

The number has gone up from 103 to 169 in four years, said Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam.

The tiger population has gone up from 53 to 69 in Tadoba, and from 30 to 35 in Melghat, Kadam said.

In Sahadyri-Sindhudurg, there are 21 tigers, Nagjira-Navegaon – 20, Bor – 12, Pench and other reserves – 12; from a total of 20 in 2006, he said.

Maharashtra ranks after Uttarakhand in terms of increase in the tiger population, followed by Assam, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the minister told the House.

The tiger-census was carried out in three phases last year, adding that across the country, number of tigers has gone up from 1411 (in 2006) to 1706.

The lower house also witnessed some banter over the increase is tiger population.

Rural development minister, Jayant Patil, said he wanted to congratulate Kadam for the rise in number of tigers.

"I want to know what is the secret", said Patil, who hails from the same district (Sangli) as Kadam.

Sudhir Mungantiwar (BJP) said he wanted to congratulate the minister for his good work and prayed that Kadam, an aspirant for Chief Minister-ship, continue in the same ministry.

Eknath Khadse (BJP), leader of opposition, said there were 46 "tigers" (Shiv Sena MLAs) on the opposition benches, and wondered if the minister would do anything to increase their numbers.

To which, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said, "You (BJP) are trying to bring down their numbers."