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Tigers thrive in Bandipur sanctuary

M.B. Maramkal

MYSORE: While tiger populations in other parts of the country have been declining sharply, their numbers have increased at the Bandipur Tiger Sanctuary, bringing cheer to those involved in the tiger conservation project and the sanctuary officials.

As per the recent tiger census, carried out by the Bandipur Project Tiger officials, there are 79 tigers in the sanctuary this year as against 73 last year.

It was in 1973 that the Union government started Project Tiger to ensure that the big cats do not become extinct. They had to be protected from poachers as well as starvation.

To the credit of the Bandipur officials, there has not been even a single case of tiger poaching since 1993, when one such case was recorded. Even then, the officials nabbed the alleged poacher while he was trying to dispose of the skin. The trial is in progress in a Kerala court.

Although to the common man, 79 might not seem to be a big number, what's important and keeps Project tiger officials going is that the number has risen from a mere 11 in this 880 sq km reserve forest area 25 years ago to the present figure.

The survey shows that of the nine forest ranges constituting the Bandipur tiger sanctuary, Hediyala range, which has thick forest cover, has 14 tigers while Begur and Bandipur ranges, situated along the periphery of the sanctuary, have only four tigers.

Of the 79 tigers, there are 72 adult tigers -- 24 male and 48 female. There are seven cubs this year, compared to four last year -- of the additions, two are female and one is a male cub.

Bandipur, Nagarahole and Biligirirangana betta (B.R. Hills) sanctuaries provide shelter to half the tigers surviving in the forests of Karnataka. These three parks have more than 170 tigers out of a total tiger population of 300 in the state.

Apart from the tigers, the Bandipur sanctuary has also recorded an increase in the population of panthers and wild dogs. There are estimated to be more than 20 packs of wild dogs, each with between 10 and 15 dogs, and about 80 panthers.

Accordingly, there is an increase in the population of herbivores and other animals that the big cats prey on, the census revealed.

Area-wise distribution of tigers in the nine forest ranges of Bandipur tiger sanctuary

male female cubs total

moyar range 3 7 -- 10

bandipur range 1 3 -- 04

maddur range 4 7 -- 11

moolehole range 4 7 1 12

hediyala range 3 9 2 14

a.m.gudi range 2 4 1 07

moliyur range 3 4 -- 07

begur range 1 3 -- 04

gundre range 3 4 3 10

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total 24 48 07 79

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