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Lack of serious study on tiger ecology rued

 MANGALDAI, July 29 - Kamal Azad, who is a Biologist with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has expressed concern over the dearth of serious study and research on the various aspects leading to tiger conservation in Assam, including tiger ecology.

 He was speaking on the topic, ‘Focus on Tiger Conservation in Assam’ as a resource person in a media orientation workshop organised jointly by Aaranyak, Mangaldai Media Circle, Mangaldai Wildlife Division and Mangaldai College authority at the Science Gallery of Mangaldai College on the occasion of International Tiger Day today.

He lamented thus, “we cannot specifically say how many prey animals a tiger in the Orang Tiger Reserve or Manas Tiger Reserve needs on an average since there is no study till date on tiger ecology in Assam.”

He further said that tiger reserve is protected not only for the tiger, but for all other wildlife species and people too. Further, the media needs to be sensitised over the core and buffer concept, besides conservation in larger landscape, connectivity or corridor and involvement of community tiger conservation . “Our people never could gauge the value of a tiger reserve as its ecological service is not evaluated in terms of money.”

He also termed undivided Darrang district as a rare district as it houses two tiger reserves –Orang Tiger Reserve with a record 30-35 tigers on average within 100 sq km area along with Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Khalingduar Reserve Forest, which is the core and buffer area of Manas Tiger Reserve.

Earlier, Sivasish Thakur, senior journalist of The Assam Tribune, while discussing, ‘The Challenges of Green Reporting’ outlined different factors becoming challenges in environment reporting, including challenges within the media itself. He urged upon the mediapersons not to remain complacent with what they have, but on the contrary to enrich their knowledge with regular study and retrospection.

On the other hand, Prabal Kumar Das, associate director of Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture and senior journalist spoke on how to develop a report on the environment and offer special tips for young journalists in this regard . He also gave an analytical presentation on climate change and its impact on the ecology and mankind.

The workshop was anchored by senior mediaperson Bhargab Kumar Das and Jayanta Pathak of Aaranyak and addressed by Dr Khagendra Kumar Nath, Principal of Mangaldai College, besides Mayukh Goswami, secretary of Mangaldai Media Circle, among others. The workshop was attended by a section of nature lovers, students and members of youth organisations, besides mediapersons of the district.

In Kaziranga: Preservation and protection of tigers, including the Royal Bengal variety in their natural habitat is very important as there is an important relationship with the availability of ground water, fauna and other vital resources.

This was stated by noted wildlife scientist and Research Officer of Kaziranga National Park Rabindra Sharma during a deliberation while observing International Tiger Day today at Kaziranga Study Centre of JDSG College at Bokakhat and organised by Kaziranga National Park in association with WWF-India, Bhumi and JDSG College.

He said that when it is widely known that tigers are present in any particular forest, anti-social elements often prefer to avoid cutting down trees illegally, which results in maintenance of a balanced ecosystem in the area. This in turn helps in conservation of ground water as there is no disturbance in the soil and root system of the forest area.

Secondly, the population of herbivores, including deer, buffaloes etc are well maintained as these animals are prey to tigers, which are placed at the top of the food chain. Further, there is often no threat to vegetation and other grassland habitats since the population of herbivores are controlled by the tigers, including the Royal Bengal variety.

Research Officer Sharma said that the current status of Royal Bengal tigers in India is 2,226 as per the 2014 Tiger Estimation Programme, which is an increase of 30 percent, up from the previous figure of 1,706. He said that Karnataka has the highest number of Royal Bengal tigers, which is 408, followed by Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh, having a population of 340 and 308 respectively. while Assam has a population of 167 Royal Bengal tigers. He said as far as Kaziranga is concerned, the forest area is very ideal for Royal Bengal tigers as there is an abundant source of prey animals along with water.

Sharma informed that among the different species of tigers in the world, Siberian Tiger is the largest, while Indo-China tiger is the smallest in size.

It is worth mentioning that then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took personal initiative to conserve and protect the tiger species in India. She initiated steps to create a separate funding system for the Project Tiger scheme. In a similar manner, then Bangladesh ruler Sheikh Mujibur Rahman too extended cooperation to India for the protection of tigers, including the Royal Bengal tiger. A part of Sunderban Tiger Reserve comes under the jurisdiction of the Bangladesh Government, just as a part of Manas Tiger Reserve comes under the legal jurisdiction of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

Tridip Sharma from WWF-India mentioned about the census process of tigers where pugmarks of tigers, scats and scraps are taken into consideration for determining the population of tigers. Currently, WWF-India is working in 18 States of India and mainly deals with tiger conservation.

Later, a quiz competition was organised where students of different colleges participated. The prizes were subsequently distributed by Rohini Saikia, DFO and Palkav Deka, DCF of Kaziranga National Park. Uttam Saikia from Bhumi organisation anchored the programme.

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