National Tiger Body Claims Decrease in Telangana's Numbers, Officials Dispute Claim
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Balu Pulipaka
Hyderabad: The number of big cats in Telangana’s protected areas of Kawal and Amrabad tiger reserves decreased from a total of 26 in 2018 to 21 in 2022, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh’s Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve, the number increased from 48 in 2018 to 63 in 2022, the NTCA said.
A highlight of the NTCA’s report, ‘Status of Tigers – Co-predators and Prey in 2022’ that was released last Friday, was that Telangana forest and environment minister A. Indrakaran Reddy’s home district has no tiger in the Kawal reserve.
However, officials of the Telangana forest department disputed the NTCA report, claiming that the state has more tigers than the numbers mentioned in the report.
"The NTCA takes into consideration resident tigers in the reserves. Telangana has a transient tiger population that is not reflected in the numbers released and these are tigers outside of the two reserves," a senior state forest department official said.
"There are some tigers that keep moving between Amrabad in Telangana and NSTR in Andhra Pradesh and outside of the core area of Amrabad. There are also tigers in the corridor areas connecting tiger reserves in Maharashtra and Kawal Tiger Reserve. Sometimes, tigers come to Kawal but do not stay for long and go back to Maharashtra, but we have resident tigers in the corridor areas of Kagaznagar and Komaram Bheem Asifabad district," the official said.
Forest officials said that the Amrabad Tiger Reserve has 22 tigers, but one adult was not taken into account as it moves between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The reserve also has nine cubs, but these were not taken into account as only those over two years of age are counted, officials said.
Officials said that while the report mentions Kawal has zero tigers, there are 12 in the corridor forest areas, which do not receive the same degree of protection as tiger reserves. Officials said of the 12 in the corridor areas, six are adults, two are sub-adults, and four are cubs.
Speaking at the Global Tiger Day celebrations at the Forest College and Research Institute at Mulug on the outskirts of Hyderabad, Dobriyal said Telangana was taking several steps to protect its forests and wildlife.
"Tigers are important for forest protection and by keeping this apex predator safe, we can save its forests and other wildlife. And to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife, the government has begun the process of shifting human habitations in the two tiger reserves to areas outside of the protected forests," he said.