Odisha government contradicted the tiger census report of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), and termed it “haphazard” and “hurried”. In its report, NTCA reported a sharp decline in tiger population in Odisha to 28 in 2014 from 32 in 2010 and 45 in 2006. NTCA issued Tiger Status Booklet on Wednesday, according to the report, the tiger population in the country significantly increased by 30 per cent in last three years. The population of tigers has increased in India from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014.
The state government has rejected the report that showed decline in big cats population in Odisha. It also raised question about using the camera trap method by NTCA, which captured only six tigers in the state. During the assessment, it looked into 3299 beats out of which 81 were found to be tiger-occupied. In these, tiger occupying areas, the team found 10434 samples trails out of which 135 had tiger signs. The total camera trap locations were estimated at 140 which collected six individual tiger photographs.
Similarly, the management effectiveness evaluation report put the two tiger reserves – Similipal and Satkosia – of Odisha in the ‘fair’ category with a score of about 57 per cent. Similipal was bracketed in the ‘Red Corridor’ given the presence of Maoists. The two reserves have potential for increasing big cat population by adopting ‘conservation inputs that restore habitat, prey population. It is said adding, supplementation of tigers in extreme cases can also be taken up.
However, the state was clearly unhappy with the report suggesting the big cats population in the state reduced to 28 in 2014. Chief Wildlife Warden S S Srivastava said “Under Phase III of the enumeration process, camera traps have been installed in Similipal and biological scientist from Wildlife Institute of India (WWI) are collecting data since November 25. How can NTCA announce the number conclusively at this stage? It is noteworthy that, so far, estimated population of tiger in Similipal and Satkosia has not been made available. In 2010 estimates, Similipal’s tiger population was pegged at 23 (in the range of 12 to 34) while Satkosia’s was eight (in seven to nine range).