Representational picture
Representational picture

BHOPAL: As the number of tigers is increasing in Madhya Pradesh, the challenge for the forest department has increased manifold to maintain its title of ‘Tiger State.’ Tigers have increased, but the forest area remains stagnant, say experts. This has made them vulnerable.

In the past one year, 17 incidents of tigers attacking humans have been reported out of which 6 have been killed across the state. Most of these people have been living in areas near tiger reserves.

The highest numbers of such incidences have been reported from Bandhavgarh that houses 124 tigers. Experts say that, considering the forest area of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, it could accommodate about 65-70 tigers. This forces the tigers to venture out into the buffer areas.

Other tiger reserves, such as Pench and Kanha, are also facing the same problem. “The increasing number of tigers and stagnant forest area are the main worries for the forest department. It leads to territorial fights, sometimes resulting in the death of a tiger, as well,” said a forest officer wishing anonymity.

Moreover, weaker tigers are pushed out in the territorial fights and they are forced to venture around the buffer areas where they find easy prey, as well.

“MP is in a Catch-22 situation. It has only 2 more tigers compared to Karnataka. Maintaining the same numbers of tigers in the same forest is a big challenge,” said Sangeeta Dogra, wildlife expert. MP has 526 tigers, while Karnataka has 524.

Kanha shows the way…adds 10,000 hectares

The management of Kanha National Park has shown the way to other tiger reserves. It has started rehabilitating 8 villages that could add another 10,000 hectares of forest land to the tiger reserve.

“This is the only way out for the safety of tigers in Madhya Pradesh,” said APCCF (Wildlife) JS Chouhan, the man behind planning and evacuation of the villages in the Kanha Tiger Reserve.

Kanha National Park has 1,945 square kilometers of core and buffer areas, besides 500 square kilometers of revenue area as tiger reserve. Five types of grassland will be developed at the places evacuated by the 8 villages.

Kanha has 108 tigers in its territory and extension of its forest area will enable the big cats to flourish in the area.

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