On Tiger Day, big cats roar in Karnataka forests

Housing the second-largest tiger population in the country, Karnataka celebrated the ‘International Tiger Day’ with a pledge to protect the majestic big cat and conserve its habitat, an official said on Wednesday.

“According to the latest census, Karnataka has 524 tigers since 2018 as against 406 in 2014, 300 in 2010, and 290 in 2000. Though the growth in the first millennial decade was 3.4 per cent (2000-2010), it grew 35 per cent by 2014 and 29 per cent by 2018,” the conservation official told IANS here.

As per the findings in the “Status of Tiger Co-predators and Prey in India’ report, Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar released in New Delhi on Tuesday, Madhya Pradesh in central India has 526 big cats, up from 308 in 2014, 257 in 2010. and 300 in 2010.

Of the estimated 3,900 tigers the world over, India accounts for 2,967 or 76 per cent of them.

“Karnataka is a land of rich biodiversity, with national parks and tiger reserves. We are a proud home to the second largest tiger population in the country,” said Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on the occasion.

The largest contiguous tiger population in the world of 724 tigers is in the rich biodiverse Western Ghats spanning Nagarhole-Bandipur-Biligiri Hills forests in Karnataka, Wayanad in Kerala, and Mudumalai-Satyamangalam in Tamil Nadu.

The second largest population of 604 tigers is across Uttarakhand and Rajaji-Corbett-Ramnagar-Pilibhit-Dudhwa forest range in western Uttar Pradesh.

“Karnataka is blessed with tropical forests of the subcontinent. Endowed with varieties of forest vegetation, the diversity of flora and fauna is wide and varied.

About 60 per cent of the forests in the southern state straddle the Western Ghats, which is one of the world’s bio-diverse hotspots.

Of the 524 striped felines in the state, Nagarhole forest in Chamarajanagar district has 125 tigers in 644 sq km protected area, and in its adjacent Bandipur forest, 126 adult cats in 100 sq km range.

The remaining tigers are spread in Bhadra, Dandeli and Kali forests in the state’s northwestern region.

“In all, the state has 24 small, medium and large tiger reserves in fragmented forest areas, with 4,393 camera traps, while the Bannerghatta National Park on the outskirts of Bengaluru south has only one tiger, as per the latest survey,” added the official.

The International Tiger Day has been celebrated the world over on July 29 every year since 2010 to create awareness about tiger conservation.

“Tiger is a precious gem of nature and its presence signifies that the forest is in good condition. Tiger reserves across the country have shot up over 5 times to 50 from 9 way back in 1973,” said Javadekar on the occasion.

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said through a dedicated approach towards project tiger, India has doubled its tiger population before the target year 2022.

Project Tiger, launched in 1973, has been a success story despite the poaching, loss of habitat, human and wildlife conflict and climate change.