31 Jul 2023

Madhya Pradesh: Tiger Numbers Rise To 785; How Will Our Dwindling Forests Accommodate More Big Cats?

Bhopal: In the National Tiger Census-2022 report released on Saturday, the number of tigers in Madhya Pradesh has increased to 785. In about the last eight years, there has been an increase of 477 tigers in the state. 

There are a total of 6 national parks in Madhya Pradesh, some of them have reached their full capacity in terms of tigers. Experts believe that if tiger population continues to increase like this, then it will be a big challenge for the Forest Department.

The state has been losing its forest cover at a rapid pace. There is hardly any more suitable forest cover left which can become habitat of the top predator.

Increase in herbivore population essential

Retired IFS officer Dr. Ramgopal Soni, who worked on tiger management in Pench Tiger Reserve, says that protected areas will also have to be developed. Arrangement of water will have to be made by making small dams on the rivers and water holes in the forests at a distance of three to five km. This will help in increasing the number of herbivore wild animals like chital, sambhar, deer, nilgai, wild pig etc in these areas and tigers will make these areas their home. Increase in herbivore animal number essential for survival of big cats.

Pench has more big cats than its carrying capacity, Panna is close to full capacity

Among the tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh, the density of tigers in Pench National Park has exceeded its capacity. According to the area of the park, there are more tigers here. The area of Pench is 758 sq km. There are currently 77 tigers here, while the carrying capacity of Pench is only 50 tigers.

Similarly, Panna Tiger Reserve has more than 55 tigers. It is almost close to its carrying capacity as it can accommodate a maximum of 60 tigers. If this area is not increased, then there will be territorial fights among tigers.

Kanha has 105 tigers while its capacity is 65

Kanha National Park also has more tigers than its capacity. Its capacity is for 65 tigers, but at present there are 105 tigers here.

Satpura Tiger Reserve currently has 50 tigers, while it has a capacity of up to 65 tigers. Its capacity will be full in the next two to three years.

Man-wildlife conflict can increase

According to wildlife experts, if there are more tigers in a park than its capacity, then they will make their hideout outside the park. If tigers enter the villages in search of food, then there will be a situation of conflict between humans and tigers. To prevent this, arrangements for pasture, grasslands and water in summer will have to be made. In such a situation, the tiger corridors have to be made and strengthened so that the big cats can move from one protected area to the other. 

JS Chauhan, former Chief Wildlife Warden MP, said many parks have become full in terms of tigers. However, there are many areas which can house more tigers. Prior to this, pastures will have to be developed and herbivorous wild animals will have to be shifted in those areas. For this, the Forest Department Wildlife Management Plan is prepared.  

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