New Delhi: Tiger habitats in the mountain chain of the Western Ghats are shrinking, although forests in the eco-sensitive zone have registered a remarkable rise of wild cats, says an Environment Ministry document.
Experts have cited the shrinking habitat in the Western Ghats as a major reason behind the man-animal conflict.
According to the document, tiger occupied forests in Western Ghats landscape, which was recently inscribed to the World Heritage List by UNESCO, was 29,607 sq km. But it has registered a decline of about 11.5 per cent compared to that of 2006.
This has occurred in peripheral and dispersal areas having low densities outside tiger reserves and tiger source populations, the ministry said.
However, number of wild cats have increased in the forests of Western Ghats, which is recognised as one of the world`s eight "hottest hotspots" of biological diversity.
"The current tiger population was estimated at 534 (500 to 568) registering a rise of about 32 per cent since 2006," says the document.
The second countrywide assessment of the status of tigers, released last year, has revealed a decline of 12.6 per cent in tiger occupancy from connecting habitats countrywide.
Because of shrinking habitats, animals like elephant, tiger, leopard, wild dog are forced to come out of the forests paving the way for human-animal conflict in the country.
The number of such incidents are very high along 1,600?km -long Western Ghats mountain, older than the Himalayas.
The second tiger census has indicated a countrywide 20 per cent increase in the number of tigers in 2010 with an estimated number of 1706.
Tiger occurrence and density were dependent on availability of habitats that were remote, with minimal human disturbance and having a high availability of large wild prey like chital, sambar, gaur, and wild pig.