Hyderabad: Physiological stress has been noted in tigers due to heavy movement of vehicles and disturbances due to human presence and tourism in the two major reserves in Madhya Pradesh according to a study conducted by the CCMB and published in the journal Conservation Physiology.
The study was carried out in Bandhavgarh (BTR) and Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) in Madhya Pradesh which have a similar habitat of tropical moist deciduous forests. The landscape is a matrix of forest and human habitats. There were 341 fecal samples collected from both reserves during the tourism and non-tourism periods for the study.
It was found that there were chronically elevated glucocorticoid levels in tigers during the tourism period. This negatively impacts their growth, reproductive success, immunity and can also cause muscular atrophy. During the tourism period the elevated levels were due to higher number of vehicles, increased disturbance in tiger reserves and also intervention of humans in core areas. This led to high physiological stress in tigers.
CCMB researchers who have carried out previous studies in the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan have noted that the reproductive system of tigers fell due to the high stress caused by environmental disturbances. They recommended strict regulation of vehicular traffic, restricted entry of tourist vehicles, shifting of artificial water holes away from tourist roads. At the same time, there was a need to relocate villages which are in the forest area and protection granted to the core forest area from any kind of human intervention to protect and allow the growth of tigers.