Tiger census in Karnataka has revealed a significant rise in the number of tigers in the survey conducted between 2018 – 2022. The number of tigers have increased from 404 according to the 2018 survey to 435 in 2022. The most tigers are reported to be found in the state’s Western Ghats regions. The census began in India after the Wildlife Conservation Act in 1972 and is conducted every four years.
Tiger census in Karnataka, the number of Tigers in the reserves and sanctuaries
According to the survey, out of the five Tiger Reserves in Karnataka, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve stands first and has reported the highest number of tigers at 149, followed by the Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR) with 143 tigers. The Biligira Ranga Temple (BRT) has 39 tigers, Bhadra Tiger Reserve has 26 tigers and Kali Tiger Reserve 19 tigers.
In the process, 612 camera traps were used to count the number of tigers in Bandipur, 330 in Bhadra, 288 in BRT, and 502 in Nagarhole. Out of the 435 tigers, 376 have been found in these tiger reserves and the remaining 59 tigers were found in the other wildlife sanctuaries of Karnataka.
Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre on account of the International Tiger Day released the figures of the All-India Tiger Estimation (AITE) exercise 2022. The forest department in the state had conducted the tiger estimation survey in all the 37 forest divisions across 31 districts in 2022.
According to the report of the Tiger census, there were 4,786 camera trap locations across the 37 forest divisions. The total number of camera trap images captured during the survey was 66,86,450.
Biologist and Conservationist, Ullas Karanth on the Tiger Census in Karnataka
Ullas Karanth, tiger biologist and conservationist has appreciated the Tiger census conducted by the forest department. He said, “Unlike in the previous surveys from 2006 onwards, when the reports were published by NTCA, which were non-transparent on many details, the present Karnataka report provides significantly more details on the implementation of the camera trap surveys conducted by the department during the year in 2021-2022. We hope this sets a new trend of transparency as opposed to earlier practices of the NTCA.”
Mr Karanth further said, “The report contains the numbers of individual, unique adult tigers photo-captured at various sites which look reasonable to us, provided all these animals were camera trapped during July-August 2022. Furthermore, they have reported closed model tiger density estimates for several of the camera trapped sites. These densities look reasonable, provided closure was maintained.” He also added, “The total estimated numbers of tigers in sampled areas could also have been generated in date on ‘state space’ area and delineation of tiger habitats had been clearly presented in the report. An issue of concern, which can be addressed if more detailed information can be provided, pertains to compliance with the important assumptions of geographic and temporal closure of populations during the sampling.”
Mr Karanth pointed out “If on the other hand, the more rigorous protocols for open model population dynamics approached that we developed as far back as 2006 had been implemented, in addition to other numbers, critical population dynamic parameters vital to comprehensive monitoring, such as annual population growth rates, survival rates, recruitment rates and movement parameters could all have been estimated.”