Days after Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain claimed that the number of tigers are increasing in various reserve forests in the state, a prominent wildlife organization termed this “baseless” and asked for statistics to support the claim.
Hussain, while replying to a question in the state assembly, had said: “There are indications that the number of tigers in the various reserve forests in Assam are increasing.”
The minister had also claimed that “the density of tigers in Kaziranga National Park is the highest in the country”, as found from the camera-trapping technique installed in the world-famous protected area.
Soumyadeep Datta, a wildlife activist, says the statement of the minister is “baseless” and pointed out that he could not give any statistics to back up is claim.
Dutta leads prominent wildlife conservation group-Natures’ Beacon.
“Assam may have 70 tigers at the maximum at this moment. If the number is increasing, why is the minister not revealing the statistics’ It is easy to make a statement, but it is very difficult to establish it with facts,” Dutta told IANS Sunday.
Datta, who is an international Ashoka Fellow (leading social entrepreneurs recognized to have innovative solutions to social problems, and the potential to change patterns across society), further revealed that there used to be 4,334 tigers in India in 1989, and till that figure is achieved again, nobody in the country should claim that the tiger population is increasing.
“At this moment India does not have more than 1,700 tigers across the country. The northeast region may contribute hardly 100 tigers to the cumulative national figure,” he said.
In 1972, there were nearly 1,827 tigers in India according to a government-sponsored tiger census. Project Tiger was launched in 1973.
The tally of tigers increased from 3,015 in 1979 to 4,005 in 1984. It reached the highest level of 4,334 in 1989, after which a gradual decline was recorded.
By 1993, the number of tigers in India was recorded as 3,750, which further faced declined to 3,508 in 1997. The lowest figure was recorded in 2004 at less then 1,410.
The state forest minister also disclosed that his department had already set up a wildlife experts’ team, to study the frequent straying of leopards into densely-populated areas, including Guwahati.