Bengaluru: The number of big cats in Karnataka's forests is growing, especially in the tiger reserves of Bandipur and Nagarahole. But in a huge blow to the state that prides itself on its record on tiger conservation this time, the Status of Tigers in India-2018 report, released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday, states that while as many as 524 tigers are estimated to be present in both protected and non-protected areas of Karnataka in 2018, it has lost its coveted top position to Madhya Pradesh which has a slender edge with 526 tigers. In 2014, Madhya Pradesh was estimated to have just 308 tigers but it has now pushed Karnataka to second place.
The report states the total number of tigers in the country is estimated at 2,967. Karnataka's tiger population saw an increase of 118 tigers from the previous figure of 406 tigers in 2014.
Doubting the sudden rise in tiger numbers in Madhya Pradesh, a conservator of forests in one of the tiger reserves of the state claimed that the increase in MP is 200-plus from its previous count, which is quite shocking. A senior official said, "Karnataka has registered a regular 7 per cent rise in tiger numbers but Madhya Pradesh has increased its tiger numbers by a staggering 70 per cent."
In Karnataka, the tiger numbers have been steadily rising from 290 in 2006 to about 300 tigers in 2010 and to 406 in the 2014 estimate.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Wildlife, Sanjay Mohan told Deccan Chronicle that there has been a steady increase in the number of tiger because of steps like the addition of more sanctuaries than any other state, effective protective measures and deployment of adequate personnel to guard tiger reserve boundaries.
Separate tiger figures for each of the protected areas in the state such as Bandipur, Nagarahole, Kali, Bhadra and BR Hills are not available with forest officials saying the break-up will be available in a month's time from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Among other states adjoining the Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu has 264 tigers and Kerala, an estimated 190 tigers.