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WB Minister Contests Central Data, Says Number Of Tigers In Sundarbans Must Be Over 100

The report was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a mega event organised in Mysuru to mark the completion of 50 years of Project Tiger on Sunday. Chief Wildlife Warden Debal Roy, who is currently in Mysuru, also said that the exact number of tigers in Sundarbans will cross the 100 mark.

Increasing tiger-human conflict in the Sundarbans | Credit: WikiCommons
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West Bengal Forest Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick on Monday said the central government’s report putting the number of tigers in Sunderbans at 100 does not reflect reality, as the population of big cats there ought to be higher.

Mallick also voiced dissatisfaction over non-inclusion of the number of tigers in places such as Neora Valley National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve in the northern part of the state, where camera traps images reveal the presence of big cats.

"The number of tigers in Sunderbands is significantly higher than the figures quoted in the report. It cannot be 100 as mentioned...  We describe this report as incomplete, so far West Bengal is concerned," the minister told PTI.

The report was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a mega event organised in Mysuru to mark the completion of 50 years of Project Tiger on Sunday. Chief Wildlife Warden Debal Roy, who is currently in Mysuru, also said that the exact number of tigers in Sundarbans will cross the 100 mark.

He, however, refused to specify the exact number of tigers there. The figure of 100 was arrived at with the use of 'camera trap per unit' technology and the real number is bound to be higher, Roy said. However, the report gives an impression of the substantial rise in the number of tigers in the mangrove delta, he said.

Another forest official, who refused to be named, said the number of tigers in Sunderbans should be at least 107. Roy said, "Forest officials individually count every photographic evidence from the cameras posted across the Sunderbans considering that the stripes of two tigers cannot be similar. There has to be stripe variation in images of two tigers. The report is undertaken based on that. The exact number of tigers is expected to be a bit higher."

The number of tigers had gone up from 76 in 2014 to 88 in 2018 in Sunderbans. The latest findings show it has shot up to 100 in 2022, the chief wildlife warden said. Mallick said the rise in tiger population can be attributed to an intensive awareness campaign launched by the state government in the past 12 years to protect the big cats.

"The joint forest management committee (JFMC), comprising forest department personnel and locals, is involved in protecting the wildlife and preventing poaching and trafficking in localities contiguous to Sunderbans," he added. Mallick said local inhabitant members of JFMC are being given monetary incentives by the forest department.

According to the data released by the prime minister, the tiger population in the country increased from 2,967 in 2018 to 3,167 in 2022. It stated that the tiger population has gone up in the Shivalik Hills-Gangetic Plains landscape, central India and the Sundarbans but their numbers have dwindled in the Western Ghats and the Northeast-Brahmaputra Plains due to habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching over the years.

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