At least 104 tigers in Kaziranga, population at saturation point

The Asian Age.  | manoj anand

India, All India

Increase in numbers could intensify human-tiger conflict.

Tiger carrying capacity of Kaziranga National Park is between 100 to 105.

Guwahati: Wildlife experts have sounded a note of caution that increase in tiger population in Kaziranga National Park may endanger the animals’ lives as well intensify man-tiger conflict as the population of the big cats reaches saturation point in the world famous national park.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority has recorded the presence of at least 104 tigers through camera-trapping Census between January 4 and March 9, this year. Though the Census has registered only one more tiger compared to the 2014 Census, wildlife experts have pointed out that the existing tiger carrying capacity of Kaziranga National Park is between 100 to 105 and the population must not increase beyond this point so as to ensure healthy survival of the animals.

Out of 104 tigers tracked this year, 95 tigers and seven cubs were found in Kaziranga National Park and two were found in Laokhowa Burachapori. The Census exercise covered a total 484 square kms. of the park. There were 31 males, 55 females and 11 undetermined.

Wildlife activists are of view that the NTCA should now focus on other tiger reserves where there is scope of increasing the population, like Namdapha.

Wildlife experts of Aranayak, an NGO, said, “A high population density means higher incidents of conflict with humans. Such density often produces a floating population of animals or ‘transients’ that are pushed out of their territory. It might result in infighting among big cats and death of animals.”

The Kaziranga National Park, where intensive exercise on tiger conservation started in 2007, is spread over Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur districts.

According to a 2014 report, Kaziranga has the highest tiger density (per 100 square km) — 12.72.

Moreover two other national parks of the state has recorded a significant growth in tiger population.

The recent Census of Manas National Park and Orang National Park has also registered a growth in the number of tigers, with the presence of 30 tigers in Manas and 28 tigers in Orang.