NTCA says tiger census figure correct

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: There seems no let-up in the tiger census row in Odisha. A day after Odisha principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) S.S. Srivastav sent a letter to the Union ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) asking to re-examine the figure, the authority today said that the figures published in All India Tiger Estimation Report-2014 is correct.

“From the data we received during 400 trappings of tigers, the figure for Odisha is correct. In the third and final phase of our ongoing enumeration process which ends on January 25, we have installed more cameras to find out whether there is any increase in the figure,” Rajesh Gopal, member-secretary of NTCA, told our correspondent.

“Though the counting process is still on, we believe the figure will be the same and it is less than the previous years. If we find any rise in big cat numbers, we’ll add in the national report,” Gopal asserted, adding tiger density is less due to fall in prey.

The national tiger estimation report recently published by MoEF showed Odisha presently has only 28 tigers as compared to 32 in 2010 and 45 in 2006. In the last census, the tiger population in Similipal was recorded at 23 while it was eight in Satkosia.

“I doubt something is missing in between. The tiger population in Odisha should be more than 28,” Srivastav had said soon after the report was published. According to him, the figure should actually be around 40-45.

In his Thursday letter, the official has asked to address his concern on the report. “The report cannot be authentic as final phase data is yet to be compiled. Currently, 10 experts from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) are at Similipal with 94 high-tech cameras to record the movement of tigers through camera-trapping,” he has pointed out.

The national report said the total tiger population in the country showed a 30 per cent rise, increasing from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014.