The Karnataka Forest Department’s tiger census has been postponed indefinitely as the department waits for the All India Tiger Estimation Reports of 2022 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Karnataka Forest Department’s Tiger Census report which was due around Aug. 9, 2022, has been pushed back indefinitely as department officials say they are awaiting for the release of the four-yearly All India Tiger Estimation Reports of 2022 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which covers the entire country.
A senior official from the Forest Department said, “We were working on the project but we had to stop it because we have to wait for the NTCA to release their pan-India survey of the same.” The official said that in order to avoid clashes or conflicts with the NTCA report, the Karnataka Forest Department is holding off on their own report. “We do not know when the NTCA report will be released but we cannot publish ours’ before theirs,” he said.
The Karnataka Biodiversity Board plays little role in this matter, said an official from the Board. “We know that the report has been completed but we do not know when it will be published. We are a small advisory body and we were not included in the project,” he said.
An official from the Wildlife Conservation Foundation who also represents the NTCA said that the NTCA sends out different guidelines to all state forest departments which they must follow. “All state departments must process, clean, and send their data to the NTCA for a pan-India report which gets cumulated and approved by the Prime Minister as he is the Chairman.” He added that the process includes collection of data not just on the number of tigers through camera tracking but also on vegetation, population density, and so on. “All of it has to be put together and sent by the states, which again is cumulated into one report which takes time.”
He further said that the report is crucial as it is a health indicator of the forest ecosystem as whole. “Presence of tigers is the best indicator for the health of the forest. If there are tigers, it means there is prey, which in turn means there is grassland which would invite rain which is very important for India. Of all the rivers in India, 90 percent of them are sourced from tiger reserves.” He added that by surveying tigers, surveys of other animals like elephants, as well as small animals like frogs and insects are also done which helps in an overall study of the forest ecosystem. “Thanks to the success of Project Tiger, our tiger population is on a steady rise.”
Currently, Karnataka has five tiger reserves and holds the second position in the country for tiger conservation with a total of 524 tigers according to a 2018 NTCA report. The report further stated that the number of tigers in India have been on the climb. India already accounts for 70 percent of the tiger population of the world with 2967 tigers in the country.
The 2019 press release by the government of India on July 29, Global Tiger Day, noted that India has seen a 33 percent increase in the number of tigers. However, it also stated that 30 percent of India’s tiger population existed outside the tiger reserves.