Bhopal: Notwithstanding a 12 per cent rise in the population of big cats in the country, the Tiger state of Madhya Pradesh has witnessed a decline in their numbers resulting in loss of this coveted status to Karnataka.
According to the latest tiger census report, the big cat population in Madhya Pradesh has dropped to 257 from 300 tigers in 2006.
"The decline in the tiger population in the state is mainly due to the loss of 24 tigers allegedly due to poaching in the Panna Tiger Reserve," a forest official said.
Efforts are underway to revive the big cat population in Panna. Three tigresses and a tiger had been translocated to it from others parks since last year and the exercise has seemed to pay off with two felines giving birth to five cubs last year.
The famous Kanha Tiger Reserve too had lost more than 25 tigers. In 2006, it had 89 tigers which had now dipped to 60, according to the latest census.
Reports regarding tigers` deaths have been trickling in from Kanha for more than two years. Forest officials contend that it was mainly due to territorial fights among them.
The 2006 tiger census report had recommended the state government that Kanha buffer zone needs to be extended south- west to increase the big cat habitat. This was implemented in toto, officials said.
Karnataka has witnessed an increase of 10 tigers, taking its big cat population to 300, according to the recent All India Tiger Estimation Exercise for 2010.
Unhappy over losing the tiger state tag, MP has shot off a letter to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in this regard.
"I am of view that the tiger population was more than what has come out in the latest big cat census given that we too have an internal mechanism to monitor striped animals, Principal Chief Conservator (Wildlife) H S Pabla said. "Something has gone amiss. We have sent a letter requesting the WII to check their data base," he said.