The expansion in the territory of tigers in Madhya Pradesh has raised hopes of a rise in the number of the striped animals in the state, officials said.
The number of forest beats (small unit of a forest area), where the presence of tigers has been found, has almost doubled since 2014, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shahbaz Ahmed told PTI, citing data collected by the State Forest Research Institute (SFRI).
"According to the SFRI data released after its first phase of estimation, the number of beats with tigers' presence has gone up to 1,432 this year from 717 in 2014," Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Rajnish Singh said.
The SFRI is the nodal agency for tiger estimation in the central state, which is home to nearly half-a-dozen reserves for the national animal.
Based on the expanding area of tigers' presence, it is expected that the number of felines may noticeably go up in Madhya Pradesh when the next tiger estimation data comes out, Mr Ahmed said.
According to the last census conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2014, there were 308 tigers in Madhya Pradesh, 406 in Karnataka and 340 in Uttarakhand.
Mr Singh, however, claimed that the number of tigers trapped in cameras installed in forests of MP during the 2014 census was higher than in Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
"During the 2014 tiger census, 286 tigers were trapped in cameras installed in the Madhya Pradesh forests while this number was 260 and 276, respectively, in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. However, the final estimation of tigers in Karnataka and Uttarakhand was higher," he said.
The Dehradun-based WII, an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, conducts the countrywide tiger estimation once in four years.
Mr Singh said the all India tiger estimation is an almost two-year-long process. It is completed in three stages and the first phase has been done in February-March this year.
He said the SFRI data also showed that the number of battle killed by tigers has gone up by three times in the past seven to eight years.
"The annual estimation of cattle killed in the buffer zone was about 1,000 in 2009-10, which went up to over 3,000 in 2017-18," Mr Singh said.
Meanwhile, there is also some bad news for Madhya Pradesh.
According to data of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, of the 98 tiger deaths in India in 2017, 26 were reported from Madhya Pradesh.
In 2016, 33 tigers died in Madhya Pradesh, as per the state forest department.
Madhya Pradesh houses six major reserves for the national animal and is often called as the 'tiger state'. Prominent among them are Bandhavgarh, Pench and Kanha tiger reserves.
July 29 is observed as the International Tiger Day.
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