Although it is evident in the report by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) that there has been a 30% rise in the population of tiger in the country, the shocking fact is that Odisha has faced a considerable decline in the tiger count. As per the latest tiger census report of NTCA in 2014, the number of tigers have gone up from 1706 in 2010 to 2226 in 2014, showing a remarkable growth. But unfortunately, when it comes to Odisha, the number has decreased from a meagre 32 in 2010 to even more worse, 28 in 2014!
Odisha has two tiger reserves that are in Similipal and Satkosia. Though we have the best habitat for tigers to survive and thrive in comparision with other states of India, their number is too less than what it should be. The case is such that Satkosia Tiger Reserve is suspected to have only one tiger left. That is even unsure. In the past years, Similipal Tiger Reserve was also not secure and safe for the big cats. But presently, with the sincere efforts of the forest department, Similipal is the only place in the state that has a stable population of tiger. With the relocation of human population in the area, the tigers are in a better condition as before and there are good probabilities of their population growth.
The major threats for the tigers today isn’t their poaching, it’s the poaching of the preys like deers, wild pigs, sambhars, etc. To this, wildlife conservationist Aditya Panda says, “The primary threat to tigers in Orissa currently is the acute shortage of prey animals like deer and wild pigs due to rampant poaching across the state. Statistically, a single tiger needs roughly a prey base of 500 deer to survive. Due to the high poaching rate of these prey animals, tigers populations have crashed over time, accelerated by the inability of breeding tigresses to successfully bring up cubs in prey starved habitats. Shortage of prey also leads to cattle killing by tigers which is retaliated by villagers by poisoning kills and hence killing tigers. The other major threat is, of course, direct poaching of tigers for the black market in tiger parts.”
“Also, successive state governments have shown very little political will for tiger conservation in our state. The State Forest Department has been just as recalcitrant and apathetic. This has made Odisha one of the worst performers when it comes to implementation of tiger conservation policies in India. Unless this insincere and superficial attitude changes, we cannot expect any growth in the number of tigers in our state,” he added.