Biggest tiger reserve now bigger: 90 cats
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The country's biggest tiger reserve, Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam, can now flaunt some extra stripes. Camera traps have recently photographed females with healthy cubs, and adult males not seen before in these parts, setting pulses racing. Forest officials estimate there at least 70 adults and 20 cubs in the reserve now.
The new camera traps with motion and infrared sensors have helped this recount in the 3,568 sq km reserve. "This is the first time the animals have been photographed, giving us an idea of each individual, number of animals, and in which areas the tigers are moving. Twenty per cent of the tigers photographed so far are cubs with mothers," says A K Naik, the head of Project Tiger at Hyderabad and a former field director of the Nagarjuna Sagar reserve.
There are photos indicating the tigers are also venturing into the Gundla Brahmeswara Wildlife Sanctuary which, officials say, has become sort of an extended tiger reserve.
The Forest Department had released about 70 deer to increase the prey base and to prevent the tigers and leopards from straying towards human settlements.
They spent a couple of anxious days recently when a female with two cubs was snapped close to a road open for traffic on the sanctuary's periphery, and a male seen near a village.
However, officials say, the reason the tigers are thriving is because man-animal conflict is minimal. "There are 24 villages with 1,500 families, including Chenchu tribals, but they have a symbiotic relationship with the forest. We prevent discontent in case of cattle-lifting by tigers or leopards by paying compensation on the spot. The last case of tiger poaching occurred in October 2001," says Naik.
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