Not happy with the results of the tiger survey by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) last year on the number of tigers in the state of Odisha, the state government recently conducted another survey and found the eastern Indian state to be home to 40 tigers. These are 12 tigers more than the NTCA estimate.

The enumeration conducted by the State Government, used camera traps and pug impression pads (PIPs) in an attempt to dispute the numbers published by NTCA.

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Counting Tigers and Leopards

The Wildlife Wing carried out an estimation of not only tigers, but also leopards in eight circles and 46 divisions. The counting which was done in February and April this year, showed that Simlipal area was most abundant in tiger population, having 29 tigers. In main Simlipal, 14 females and 9 males were enumerated. Three tigers were found in Karanjia division.

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They found two tigers in Satkosia Tiger Reserve, four in Sunabeda Wildlife Division, one each in Khariar and Sundargarh divisions and three in Keonjhar Wildlife Division (Hadgarh).In all, 13 males, 24 females and three cubs were found.

One of the rare melanistic tiger from Odisha found in Simlipal Tiger Reserve. Camera trap image by Odisha Forest Department.

Three melanistic tigers were found in Simlipal Tiger Reserve. These dark-striped tigers or black tigers as they are sometimes called are found only in this particular habitat the world over and are sadly on the decline.

318 leopards were also found in the state.

The entire exercise which was carried out by the Wildlife Wing used 20,000 PIPs and 448 camera traps. Of these 315 were used in Simlipal, where the estimation was done twice – in February and in April.

Safer Habitats

Officers looking at pug marks during the counting operation. Image via NDTV

According to Mr. Mohapatra, human settlements in the region were a major cause preventing the tiger population from growing. Hence arrangements were being made to relocate the settlements and provide undisturbed environment for the tigers.

“We hope in the next five years, the population would go up significantly,” he said.

He also announced that considering the low population of Satkosia, the Department is considering reintroducing tigers in the Tiger Reserve like the ones done earlier in other Reserves.

Chief Wildlife Warden Sidhanta Das said the Wildlife Wing has plans to seek help from famous tiger expert Dr Ullas Karanth to give training on scientific enumeration methods to forest officers.

“We are preparing long term plans for improvement of tiger habitats and strengthening the prey base,” he added.

It looks like the eastern state of Odisha is keen to increase the number of tigers and determined to make it a safe haven for the national animal.

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Tiger Numbers On The Rise In Andhra And Telangana

About Ramya Naresh

Ramya is a homemaker who likes to live in harmony with Nature, believing that each form of life is a wonder in itself. She values living in the present and looks forward to each day in all its freshness. She is a Senior Writer with India's Endangered.

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