How many big cats are there in PNP?

Wildlife authorities of Papikonda National Park (PNP) are waiting with bated breath for this day – July 29, which is observed as the International Tiger Day.

And their anxiety is not without reason.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will be announcing the findings of the Tiger Census - 2018 on Monday.

The tiger population in the PNP, which is spread over 1,012.86 square km of the forest cover in the Papikonda hill range, has been estimated for the first time by the NTCA.

Declared as a national park in 2008, the PNP met the criteria of the Tiger Census Protocol and included in the list of tiger habitats, and therefore part of the census exercise.

“We have two reasons for our anxiety. One, the official figure of the tiger population in the PNP will be coming out for the first time, and second, the NTCA has also covered the potential sites outside the park in its census,” Anant Shankar, Divisional Forest Officer (Rajahmundry Wildlife), told The Hindu.

The area outside the PNP is spread over East and West Godavari districts.

The NTCA had carried out the census exercise between November and December 2018.

Sign survey

The 2016 sign survey conducted by the State government had confirmed the presence of three tigers in the park.

“We have so far documented the pug marks during our field surveys. The census 2018 will help commission a robust scientific study along the tiger landscape – the stretch of forest in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh,” said Mr. Anant Shankar.

The 2018 census is the first in the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh post bifurcation. As per the 2014 census, the combined State was home to 68 tigers.

“Meeting the Tiger Census Protocol was a cause of celebration. All eyes are on the census findings, as they will change the face of the wildlife research in the park,” say the sources associated with the survey in the PNP.

Meanwhile, Tigernet, an official database of the NTCA, put the total number of tiger deaths till July 29 this year at 56. And the cause of death was as follows: natural 9, poaching 6, and others 48. In 2018, the total figure was 94.

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