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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Row over head count of tigers intensified after State principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) S.S. Srivastava claimed today that there are around 60 big cats roaming in the forests of Odisha, thereby negating the report of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The All India Tiger Estimation Report-2014, released in January this year, had reported a fall in Odisha's big cat population to 28 from 32 in 2010 and 45 in 2006. The census was conducted by NTCA.

The dismal figure has pitted the State government against the Centre as the former did not accept it. Srivastava had then shot off a letter to the national body countering its claim and demanded a re-examination of the counting process.

“The controversy started when the NTCA declared the final result of the tiger census when the field exercise was still going on in January. At that time, we protested and wrote to NTCA asking how they could announce the final result when the field exercise was not completed,” Srivastava told mediapersons here.

He claimed the NTCA had not carried out survey in most of the divisions of the State when the announcement of the tiger census was made. “Now, we have sent to NTCA additional information and photographs about other divisions where more tigers were found,” he added.

“They have given only State figures whereas missing out on division wise numbers. Now, the final figure of tiger presence in the whole State has come out, which is around 60. The division wise figure will come out soon,” he further said.

“The NTCA conducted the tiger census through camera traps in Similipal. However, we cannot comment how they reached at 28; they may have used some different method,” Srivastava added.

The State has three tiger reserves – Similipal, Satakosia and Sunabeda. However, tiger counting in Sunabeda reserve could not be done due to the presence of Maoists in the area.

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