Drop in tiger numbers in Wayanad puzzles forest dept, awaits detailed report

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Photo: N Shiva Kumar

Kalpetta: The recent report regarding a drop in number of tigers in the Wayanad, despite an ample prey base and interventions for Project Tiger, has puzzled the forest department. The tiger numbers have declined in the Wayanad landscape, according to the tiger census released by the Prime Minister during his visit to Bandipur Tiger Reserve on Sunday.

The officials of the forest department said that the decline in the number of tigers in Aralam and Kottiyoor regions, located in Kannur also affects the figures as these areas fall under the Wayanad landscape. A clarity over the census can be achieved only after publishing the district-wise and division-wise report. This detailed report will be available within a week, officials said.

Though the tiger population has decreased in Wayanad, the nearby wildlife sanctuaries of Bandipur, Mudumalai and Nagahole have witnessed a surge in the number of big cats.

It is also suspected that the same tigers were counted again during the past two censuses. The latest census was taken with the help of Artificial Intelligence and hence this one is likely to be more accurate.

The census for the latest report was conducted within 45 days in 2021, by installing 624 cameras, even in dense forests. The visuals were later handed over to the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The decline of the ecosystem, human-animal conflict, and tiger traps were considered the major cause of tiger population reduction. However, trapping incidents were not reported much. The habitat of tigers in Wayanad wildlife sanctuary is similar to that of the other nearby sanctuaries where the tiger population has marked an increase.

Wayanad sanctuary was considered favourable for the tiger population with the increase in number of deers and general prey base. The upcoming detailed report will also surface the number of deers in the district thereby offering a clear picture of the wildlife here.

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