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International Tiger Day observed in Assam; big cat population doubled in state, Says Minister

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From Sandeep Sharma

GUWAHATI: The International Tiger Day or Global Tiger Day was observed in Assam along with the rest of the country on Thursday.

The day was observed in the four Tiger Reserves viz., Manas, Kaziranga, Orang and Nameri National Parks and Tiger Reserves with officials, NGOs, individuals, wildlife activists and local communities underscoring the need for conservation of the big cat to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

At Bansbari range of Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve, the day was observed in a befitting manner with field director of the Manas Tiger Project, Amal Chandra Sarmah highlighting the conservation success story of the big cat with three-fold increase in its population. From nil to 48 tigers in 20 years Manas has come a long way insofar as conservation of the big cat is concerned.

Appreciation certificates were given away by the Field Director to those personnel who were involved in the last Phase IV monitoring of tigers. A book titled ‘The Tigers of Manas’ was released on the occasion.

The day was also observed at the three other tiger reserves. Kaziranga and Orang Tiger Reserves have also registered an increase in wild big cats. Assam has a total population of 200 tigers with Kaziranga 121, Manas 48, Orang 28 and Nameri 03 tigers

State environment and forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said the conservation of tigers and their natural habitats is crucial to maintain the health and diversity of an ecosystem.

“The increasing numbers of the big cats should encourage us to pursue conservation and habitat restoration with the same unwavering commitment. The numbers will continue to be on the upswing if we keep on with regular afforestation practices and increased awareness about tiger conservation. Let us pledge to save the habitat of this beautiful, majestic and magnificent animal to protect our ecology,” he quipped.

Suklabaidya said the increase in tiger population in Assam and other parts of India augurs well at a time when there has been a decline in the population of the big cats elsewhere. “Assam in particular and the country as a whole has been able to reach the goal of doubling its tiger population four years ahead of schedule of the St.Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation,” Suklabaidya added.

Of the four tiger reserves, Kaziranga, Manas and Orang have got National Committee of Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS) accreditation.

As expansion of the green cover happens to be vital to provide habitats to tigers and other wildlife, the Forest department has been on a massive plantation drive across the state with focus on the degraded forest areas. Under the CAMPA and French funded project, 10 crore saplings were planted in the past five years. The department has set a target of doubling the plantation of trees to expand the green cover in the next five years. The state has registered an increase of almost 222 sq km of new forest areas.

The International Tiger Day or Global Tiger Day is observed on this day every year. The event aims at raising awareness about the loss of the tiger population globally and the need for conservation. The theme of this year is “Save Forest, Save Wildlife: Their survival is in our hands’.

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