'Kaziranga has highest tiger density in the world'
Kolkata: Notwithstanding the three tiger deaths in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam this month, the sanctuary has the highest density of the big cats in the world, a top forest official has said, maintaining that none of the recent fatalities was due to poaching.
"Kaziranga has the highest tiger density in the world. As per estimates arrived at by the camera-trapping method, there are 32.64 tigers per 100 sq km at Kaziranga which is even better than Kanha in Madhya Pradesh and Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand," KNP director Surajit Dutta told a news aegncy.
The exact number of big cats in KNP, a world heritage site, would be known once the tiger census was over, he said.
On the death of three tigers at Bagori, Agoratoli and Kohora ranges of Kaziranga this month, he said these were natural deaths. The tiger at Bagori range was injured by a wild buffalo, he said.
Aaranyak, a prominent NGO working in the field of wildlife conservation, also felt the three big cats died natural deaths.
Firoz Ahmed, an official of the organisation, corroborated the forest department's statement that the tiger at Bagori was injured by a wild buffalo.
"The tiger at Kohora range died of old age, while the tigress at Agoratoli was quite healthy. We don't know exactly what happened, but there was no evidence of poaching."
He said many camps in the park made it difficult for poachers to kill a tiger.
Dutta said "our staff are always vigilant. There were a number of encounters in which seven poachers were killed in the park this year. Some forest guards were also injured."
"We ensure regular patrols to ward off any threat from poachers besides motivating the people. Many poachers have also surrendered," he said.
Pointing out that there were 2,048 one-horned rhinos in the park as per 2009 census, he said three were killed by poachers this year. Last year, six rhinos had fallen victim to poaching.