Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The wildlife lovers have a reason to rejoice as the presence of a rare black tigress and her two cubs has been found in Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district.

“We had observed the movement of the tigers through camera traps installed in several areas inside the Park during the second tiger census which was held from April 17 to 30 and found a melanistic (black) tigress and her two cubs. This melanistic tigress had migrated to Hadagarh sanctuary in Keonjhar about three years ago. Though we had the reports of a tiger killing domestic animals in Hadagarh areas, we were not able to get the photo of this tigress which returned to STR recently,” Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF), Baripada Circle, Harish Chandra Bist told OTV today.

He further said the second tiger census in Similipal National Park, 29 tigers have been found in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) of which 26 are in the STR Division and three tigers have been found in Satkosia forest under Karanjia Division.

“The tiger census report has revealed that the number of tigers is on the rise in Similipal STR. In 2014 census, there were 17 tigers in STR the number of which has gone up to 29 in two years,” Bist said.

Not agreeing to the number of tigers in Similipal as told by the RCCF, noted environmentalist and former honourary wildlife warden Bhanumitra Acharya claimed that there more tigers in STR.

“I am not happy with the procedures the Forest department has adopted for tiger census. I say with much emphasis that there are at least 35-40 tigers in STR,” he claimed.

Justifying his contention, Acharya said the camera trap method adopted in the tiger census is not full-proof. “The tigers, while in search of food in the night, get disturbed due to flash in the cameras installed inside the forest. As a result, the other tigers will avoid the path and move in the other path which the cameras cannot trap them. Camera trap is a proof of the presence of tigers in the forest. But it cannot be used for tiger census due to these shortcomings,” he pointed out.

He further said if the Forest department will use the traditional PIP (pug impression pad) and sighting methods, the number of tigers in Similipal would be more than 29.