GUWAHATI: The Manas National Park has shown the world that doubling tiger numbers is possible, since the historic commitment made by the heads of thirteen tiger range countries in 2010 in The Tiger Summit held at St. Petersburg, Russia. The Manas Tiger Reserve in the Bodoland Territorial District Areas (BTAD) or Assam within the trans boundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA) has surprised all with its tiger number in 2019.
The combined efforts of the government, concerned agencies and many NGOs along with the local communities have paid off well and resulted in doubling the number of tigers since 2010. Today, the Manas NP has an estimated tiger population of 52 as per the study carried out in 2019. A minimum of 25 adult tigers were captured in all the three ranges of the park, viz. Bhuyanpara, Bansbari and Panbari which had only 10 individuals in 2010. Even exciting is that, study in the First addition of Manas National Park, a newly added 360 sq km tiger habitats resulted in photo capture of three tiger individuals in 2019.
Notably, the continuous scientific monitoring of tigers, prey animals and habitats at Manas as required by the NTCA and the Park Management is led by the Field Director and assisted by Aaranyak and WWF-India and other grassroot-level NGOs.
The government of BTC, State government and National Tiger Conservation Authority has invested significantly in the Manas Tiger Reserve in recent years to improve its infrastructure and law enforcement that has contributed to the recovery of the habitats, prey animals and tigers and other carnivores.
It is worth mentioning that the Tiger Research and Conservation Division of Aaranyak initiated the Manas Tiger Conservation Programme (MTCP) in 2015 that integrated multiple approaches (Livelihoods, Law Enforcement support, Conservation Education and Biological Monitoring) for conservation to improve tiger habitats and support tiger, co-predators and prey population in Manas National Park. This has been a multi- agency collaborative programme involving the Forest Department (BTC), Park management, Wildlife Conservation Trust and Panthera supported by the Integrated Tiger and Habitat Conservation Programme, a joint initiative of the IUCN-KFW.
Anindya Swargoyari, APCCF & CHD, BTC Forest Department said, "The contribution of frontline staff and non-profit organizations to support the BTC Forest Department is immense in increasing the tiger numbers by three-fold over the last decade."
In addition, the impact of the law enforcement improvement support has found to be significant in the Bhuyanpara Range of the park over the last three years with improved GPS based patrolling and regular skill development efforts for the specialized patrol team 'Manas Tigers' as well as the Anti-poaching Camp staff of the range. Given the experiences and success the model of GPS based efficient law enforcement to learn best practices were expanded in the Bansbari Range of the park from January 2019 with effective results till the end of the year. However, given all the good results, still a lot has to be done for tigers and prey animals in the park and particularly in the Panbari Range, first addition and the buffer areas of the Manas Tiger Reserve. Poaching and human induced disturbances remain major threats to tigers and habitats in the Manas Tiger Reserve, even today.