Humans are greatest threat to survival of tigers, say experts

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Bhubaneswar: Tigers are regarded as umbrella species for the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem, goods, and services in forest systems in the world.

The sighting of the big cat in the Odisha Tiger Reserves is becoming rare due to the fast decline in their population. Unabated poaching has posed a threat to the survival prospects of this majestic animal.

PC: Nilamadhab Sahu

On the occasion of Global Tiger Day today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the results of the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation – 2018 in New Delhi. The report shows that the tiger population in Odisha has remained constant at 28 in 2018 as compared to 2014. The population has declined from 45 in 2006 and 32 in 2010.

Tiger Reserves are visualised as breeding nuclei from which surplus tiger would migrate to adjacent forests. Odisha has two Reserves as the touring part of the major population of tigers in India.

SIMLIPAL TIGER RESERVE:

Mayurbhanj District holds the major population of tigers within the state. Less than thirty tigers were surviving here in the year 1975. Sustainable protection measures and management initiatives have resurrected the dwindling population of tigers.

Major threats to Similipal centre arise out of the four lakh people living in the periphery and ten thousand people living inside it.

SATKOSIA TIGER RESERVE:

Encompasses the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary which was constituted in May 1976. The Tiger Reserve is rich in large cats and their prey along with wetland fauna (Gharial, Mugger, freshwater turtles, etc.) in the Mahanadi and rich biodiversity in the terrestrial ecosystem.

Prof Sarat Kumar Palita
Prof Sarat Kumar Palita, Vice-Chancellor

Speaking about the decline in the tiger population, Prof Sarat Kumar Palita, Vice-Chancellor, and Dean of the School of Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural Resources, Central University of Orissa, Koraput, said, “The greatest threat to the survival of tigers are humans. Their beautiful fur serves as a significant incentive for poachers, and a black-market trade exists for fur coats, wall hangings, and rugs.”

“Protecting tigers can be done by conserving their habitat, building capacity in range states reducing human-tiger conflict, conducting scientific research on tigers to help inform conservation strategies should be the most needed things,” Prof Palita said.

“Not only the forest department but also the entire community should be aware of the conservation of the wildlife. Those involved in poaching and animal skin trade should be given maximum punishment. Especially in Odisha, deforestation, logging and human interference are the basic problems for shrinking of the forest reserves,” Prof Palita added.

Sanjib Dash
Sanjib Dash, former Chief Wildlife Warden

Sanjib Dash, former Chief Wildlife Warden, Khurda, said, “From tiger biology perspective for the States with critically low-density populations, any substantive increase would be very difficult, as can be seen for figures of Bihar 28-31mn and Arunachal 28-29.”

“If the right things are done, if space is provided for wild tigers, if local communities become the primary beneficiaries of forest regeneration that enhances biodiversity instead of depleting it, then we can not only see more than 10,000 tigers surviving and thriving, but will also find that floods, droughts, and extreme weather conditions will be measurably tempered,” Dash said.

“Odisha government must restore the surrounding forests for the benefit of local communities. Let’s accept that & stop sensationalising loss of tigers in Odisha, should be the message,” Dash added.

Mohit Patro
Mohit Patro, School of Biodiversity, final year p.g student

Mohit Patro, School of Biodiversity, final year post-graduation student, CUO Koraput says, “There are many causes behind the decline of tigers in Odisha. In a holistic approach, we can say in the early time when there were a lot of hunting activities going on, there were no measures to conserve the wild features or protect them. But now we have acts and laws to protect them, especially the tigers.”

“If we consider the protection of wild animals in India, we have only 5 per cent of land for wildlife conservation. Hence we don’t have enough protected area for the wildlife,” he said and added that the corridors serve a number of purposes including protecting tigers in and helping them populations thrive.

PC: Nilamadhab Sahu

As a means to decrease human-animal conflict in the form of vehicle-animal collisions, the government needs to make wildlife corridors for protection of tigers in Odisha also,” Patro further added.

While India has been home to the majestic animal since ages, the number of tigers today is steadily increasing following various projects. With more than 50 per cent of the world tiger population nestling in India, streamlining and considering the direction of this growing tiger population is an important step today.

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