06 August, 2021

Far From Roaring Success, Odisha's Tiger Conservation Falls Flat

Once a haven for the Royal Bengal tiger, it had as many as 132 in 2002, the numbers have alarmingly dwindled over the years. At last count, Odisha have only 28 tigers

His Highness
A Royal Bengal tiger at Similipal
Far From Roaring Success, Odisha's Tiger Conservation Falls Flat

The mighty roar is now a mere whimper in the forests of Odisha. The Royal Bengal tiger, once lovingly described by writer-conservationist Jim Corbett as a “large- hearted gentleman”, is waging a grim battle for survival in the state. The latest tiger census estimates the number of big cats in the state at 28, the same number reported four years earlier. In contrast, the all-India growth in tiger numbers is 33 per cent, with nearly 3,000 counted across the country in the 2018 census. States like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra rec­orded spectacular growths of 71 per cent and 64 per cent, according to data released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on World Tiger Day, July 29.

For Odisha, the dwindling numbers are hard to swallow since the state was once a haven for tigers—in 2002, it had as many 132 big cats. It is also the state where Saroj Raj Choudhury, its first conservator of forests, launched the then revolutionary method of counting tigers through pug marks in 1966. The method has since been replaced with the internationally-accepted ‘camera...

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