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Tiger population up by 6%, need more measures to protect them: Experts

Baripada: Noting a six per cent rise in the tiger population in the country, experts today suggested a need for greater flexibility to increase habitat for the feline for their protection.

Speaking at the national workshop on monitoring systems for tigers intensive patrolling and ecological status, Y V Jhalla, a principal scientist of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), said the six per cent increase in the population of big cates was due to several measures taken to protect them.

The recent count of the big cat has revealed that around 2,200 Royal Bengal Tigers and 7,910 leopards are present in 13 tiger reserves in the country, he said, adding it was determined through camera trap method now in use.

Experts from all the 13 tiger reserves of the country stressed on greater flexibility to increase tiger habitat and other favourable measures that could boost the population of the big cat.

The workshop, organised by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), was mainly held for interaction on preservation of Royal Bengal Tigers considering the challenges faced by different tiger reserve authorities.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Odisha, Siddhanta Das said the preservation of the big cat family was necessary for the existence of mankind as without the presence of the tigers in the forest, air, moisture, perennial water sources would vanish, causing ecological disaster.

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“If the family of the big cat were not protected Similipal sanctuary would also turn into a desert,” he pointed out citing that the conflict between man and animal had caused a lot of difficulties to the balance of ecology in Similipal.

India, he said, topped the list in the world for maximum funding for the preservation of tigers.

In order to make the sanctuary area free from human interference, the Similipal tiger reserve authority had chalked out programmes to relocate the villages from the core and buffer area. Those areas would be converted to meadows for wildlife fodder, he said. .

Apart from Similipal reserve, villages located inside the protected forests in Odisha would be relocated without using any force against the villagers as per a policy decision by the Odisha Government, the PCCF said.

A total of 169 villages and 11,188 families had been relocated across the nation from forest areas to pave away for smoother movement of wildlife, Jhalla said.

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Shifting of human interference from core areas of the sanctuary, growth of prey population and limited conservation area of 800-1000 sq km are necessary to foster and preserve the tigers, he said.

Unless the tiger conservation in Similipal sanctuary was properly taken up, the animal would perish like at Sariska tiger reserve, he added.

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