Goa to begin tiger census from April

RUPESH SAMANT (PTI), PANAJI | 11 March 2010 18:29 IST

An extensive animal census planned by Goa forest department is expected to put to rest the uncertainty about existence of tigers in state’s forest, the environmentalists feel.

"If the census is done scientifically than it will surely prove existence of tigers here," environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar told PTI.

Kerkar, who exposed killing of a tiger near Mhadei wildlife sanctuary last year, opined that the shadows of mining magnets should be kept at bay while conducting the census.

A senior forest department officer said the census will begin from next month, which would be an extensive exercise, to be held with the help of forest department officers, experts and volunteers.

The counting will happen banking upon the methodology adopted by Dehradun based Wildlife institute of India (WII). It is expected to prove the claims by green activists that the Goa forest needs to be declared as Tiger Reserves.

Kerkar stated that the environmentalists are always pressing for declaration of these sanctuaries as tiger reserves so that the mining companies cannot even think of peeping into it.

The environmentalists feel that protection of sanctuaries like Mhadei, Netravali and Bhagwan Mahaveer will provide continuous corridor to wild animals.

"This corridor will cover Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary of Maharasthra, Dandeli sanctuary, Anshi national park, certain areas of forest adjoining Tillari in Maharashtra and Radhanagari forests," he added.

Another environmentalists' group, Mission Green, had recently petitioned Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, seeking his intervention to declare Goa's wildlife sanctuaries as tiger reserves.

The e-petition signed by various individuals was also sent to union environment and forest minister Ramesh Jayram.

Goa, which has almost around 50 per cent of its area as forest, had recently witnessed killing of a tiger and subsequent hints of existence of a tigress with her cub in Mhadei wildlife sanctuary basin.

The census held in 2002 had counted presence of four tigers in Goa based on pugmarks and other related signs of the wild beast. Next census conducted in 2006 could not come to any results as it was conducted with new methodology and WII is yet to compile the results.

With such situation prevailing, all hopes are now on the ensuing census to put to rest all the vagueness on existence of tigers in Goa's forest.

"The census will be actually the assessment of animals and their habitat. We will be able to map exactly what's the trend within the sanctuaries and whether there is enough food available for them," an officer attached to wildlife sanctuary, told PTI.

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