Conservationists, activists cheer as tiger numbers increase in Coimbatore forest division

On the International Tiger Day, the wildlife activists and conservationists are cheering after the reported increase in the Tiger population in the Coimbatore forest division.

According to conservationists, there are around 20 tigers in the Coimbatore forest division. However, as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has banned the official announcement on the number of tigers, the forest department officials are not coming out with a clear figure.

It is to be noted that there are seven forest ranges under the Coimbatore forest division and with the increase in the tiger population demands are on the rise to declare the forest division as a Tiger reserve.

Ajith Somanath, a wildlife enthusiast and Director, Centre for Wild Life Studies, a think tank on wild animals told IANS, ‘On the International Tiger Day, I am happy at the increase in the tiger population of the Coimbatore Forest division. While the NTCA has put a strict ban on the official declaration of the number of tigers, officials said that there are around 20 tigers in the division at present and this is very positive information.’

He said that the field-level staff in the Coimbatore forest division had while on patrol duty sighted the presence of a big cat with the cubs, and the cameras fixed to monitor wild elephants had recorded the presence of more tigers.

The Union Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change in July 2020 had in a report stated that during a survey in 2018, there were 15 tigers in the forest.

Forest officials said that there is ample water in the forests and prey like deer, gaur, wild boar, etc., leading to an abundance in prey and also leading to an increase in tiger population in the forest division.

However, officials said that declaring Coimbatore forest division as a Tiger reserve will not materialise soon as first it would have to be declared as a sanctuary and then opinion will be sought from all the stakeholders.

The officials also said that the tigers hunt on plain and flat surfaces and such land tracts are in plenty at Boluvampatti, Sirumugai, and Mettupalayam forest ranges. Water from Noyyal and Bhavani rivers is another reason for the tigers to thrive in the division.

Wildlife activist and biologist, Dr. Salim Ahamed while speaking to IANS, said, ‘It is a good news on the International Tiger Day but the vehicle movement on Mettupalayam -Ooty, and Mettupalayam- Kotagiri roads are a concern and we have taken this up with the district administration, state forest department and state transport authority.’

He said that tigers are reclusive animals and human movements and vehicle honking will create disturbance for these big cats.

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