The number of tigers may have increased nationwide but a sharp decline in their population in Chhattisgarh has become a matter of concern, the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018 released on Monday said.
According to the report prepared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the tiger population in Chhattisgarh has come down from 46 in 2014 to 19 in 2018.
Three more states Goa, Mizoram and West Bengal have recorded a decline in tiger population, it said.
While Goa is left with just three tigers, compared to five in 2014, Mizoram and West Bengal recorded no tigers this time, with the authorities citing poor sampling as the reason. As per the 2014 census report, both states had three tigers each.
"Loss in north-east is due to poor sampling. The poor and continuing decline in tiger status in the states of Chhattisgarh is a matter of concern," the report said.
Speaking on the issue, Rajesh Gopal, secretary general of the Global Tiger Forum (GTF), an inter-governmental international body for tiger conservation, said Chhattisgarh is in a "very bad shape".
"Chhattisgarh is in a very bad shape. Left-wing extremism has hit the state due to which the forest staff are not able to go to the tiger reserves. There are managerial reasons there and the strategy has to be fine-tuned," Gopal said.
Expressing similar views, Y V Jhala, scientist at WII, said there has been a decline in the number of tigers in Chhattisgarh due to the law and order problem.
"The law and order problem in Chhattisgarh is a huge issue. Conservation activities are tough to do in that state, yet sampling was done in many areas and there is a genuine decline in the number," he said.
The report said the poor tiger status in the Indravati reserve in Chhattisgarh was related to the law and order situation in the area.
"In areas where tigers have not been recorded or the population has declined, restoration needs to proceed by improving protection, augmentation of prey, and reintroduction of tigers from appropriate source," it said.
According to the report, tiger reserves in the north-east hills and Odisha remain critically vulnerable and need immediate attention.
This is the fourth cycle of the tiger census. The first was conducted in 2006, second in 2010 and the third in 2014. A team of over 44,000 officials have worked on the census this time along with 55 biologists across the country, a WII official said.
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