Goa begins trials to establish tiger presence in its forests



Goa begins trials to establish tiger presence in its forests Panaji: The Goa Forest department will post-monsoon take up the exercise to establish presence of tigers in its wildlife sanctuaries, nestled in the Western Ghats, but the trials of the same have begun from today.

A senior forest department official told PTI that camera trapping method, through which the real time pictures of tigers are captured, is being used to prove the presence of tigers in the wildlife across Goa.

"The actual exercise would begin after monsoons this year but from today onwards we are holding the trials in the wildlife sanctuaries," Sanjay Waradkar, deputy conservator of forest (wildlife and eco-tourism), told PTI.

The cameras are installed at 15 different locations in Cotigao and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries, which cover a distance of 300 square kilometres in South Goa.

The cameras would remain placed there for five days, before shifting them to next spots in other wildlife sanctuaries, Waradkar said.

"After Cotigao and Netravali, the equipment (cameras) would be installed in Mhadei and Bhagwan Mahaveer wildlife sanctuaries," he added.

The exercise has come in the backdrop of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest asking the state government to submit its proposal to declare Mhadei Wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve.

The Union government's directives were received after the state forest department, a fortnight ago, captured images of a tigress in Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, further boosting the possibility of having more wild cats in the area, which is an integral part of the Western Ghats.

Goa forest department had conducted the survey of places where tiger would be possibly venturing, Waradkar said, adding that clues like tiger scats and pug marks were used to establish their tracks.

Even as initial plans were to declare Mhadei wildlife sanctuary a tiger reserve, the state government is now contemplating the possibility of marking the entire Western Ghats as tiger reserve, which is contiguous to neighbouring Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The actual exercise which is beginning after monsoons will continue till 2017, a senior forest department official said, adding that the tigers spotted in Goa were not similar to the species of tigers known till date.

"This is some different species. We expect to throw light on new variety of tigers in Goa after this exercise. Besides, it will also help us to put up our case of declaring all the wildlife sanctuaries as Tiger Reserves," he said.

PTI