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Tiger Reserves in Arunachal Pradesh: Protecting Tigers

11 Dec,2023 06:00 PM, by: Posy Lui
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The Government of India launched Project Tiger in 1973 intending to use the tiger's significance to generate resources and public interest for the preservation of their natural environments. Since the project's inception, nine tiger reserves totalling 18,278 km2 have grown to 53 reserves totalling 75,796 km2, or 2.3% of India's total land area.

On the eve of Project Tiger's 50th anniversary in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revealed the nation's complete tiger population. As of the most recent census of 2022, there has been an impressive rise of 200 tigers, rising from 2,967 to 3,167 in just the last four years. This makes up about 75% of all tigers worldwide.

Amongst the other Indian regions, there are also quite a few tiger habitats in Arunachal Pradesh as well. These tigers are spread among the state's three reserves, Namdapha, Pakke, and Kamlang.

Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve:

The Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary is India's 50th tiger reserve, having been established in 1989. It is situated in the south-east of Lohit District in Arunachal Pradesh. It is located between the Namdapha National Park to the south and the Lang River to the north, and the name of the sanctuary originates from the Kamlang River. It is famous for its breathtaking "Glow Lake" and varied flora and fauna.

The subtropical temperature of the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary is accompanied by tropical temperate and alpine forests. Tropical wet evergreen forests cover the lower sections of the sanctuary, while alpine vegetation predominates in the upper regions close to the "Daphabhum peak." The sanctuary has been suggested to host a similar range of fauna to the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, although it has not been thoroughly investigated. Since Kamlang is surrounded by contiguous terrain, it is thought to support about 61 species of mammals, 105 species of birds, and 20 species of snakes that are known to exist in Namdapha. In order to safeguard species such as elephants, tigers, hoolock gibbons, and others, conservation activities in this reserve are concentrated in the lower belt areas.

October through April is the ideal time to explore this reserve when the weather is nice and wildlife sightings are frequent. It is reachable via the Namsai-Wakro route.

Namdapha National Park and Tiger Reserve:

Early in 2023, cameras captured a Royal Bengal Tiger near the Deban Forest Inspection Bungalow. Due to the lack of sightings of the big cat since 2015, many have begun to refer to Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh as a tiger reserve lacking tigers. Following an eight-year lapse, this was the second tiger sighting in Namdapha.

Namdapha Tiger Reserve, India's fifteenth tiger project, was founded in 1983 and is situated in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, it was first designated as a forest reserve. Later, in 1973, it was designated as a national park. The biogeographic province of the Eastern Himalayas, which includes Namdapha, is renowned for its wide range of floral and faunal diversity. The reserve covers a total area of 1985 sq. km., with a core area of 1985.245 sq. km. and a buffer area of 245 sq. km.

Namdapha is situated at the intersection of the biogeographic zones of Indo-China and the Indian Subcontinent, providing a channel for the migration of many different species. The tropical evergreen forests are home to a wide variety of lichen, bryophyte, heridophyte, gymnosperm, and angiosperm species, indicating the reserve's vegetation. There are about 1285 different species of fauna in the geographic region, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, earthworms, leeches, insects, butterflies, moths, and mammals. It is the only national park in the world to have the four feline big cat species: clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), snow leopard (Panthera uncia), tiger (Panthera tigris), and leopard (Panthera pardus).

Namdapha Tiger Reserve is an important conservation site because of the region's unparalleled biodiversity, which is a result of its distinct geographical and ecological qualities. The Reserve experiences a variation in climate due to its diverse topography, ranging from mountainous to low-lying plains. It has sub-tropical and tropical climates, with distinct seasons such as the cold season from December to February, the pre-monsoon season from March to May, the southwest monsoon season from June to September, and the post-monsoon season from October to November.

Pakke Tiger Reserve:

The Pakke Tiger Reserve is a part of Project Tiger, an initiative to conserve wildlife that was started in India in 1973 to safeguard Bengal tigers. With a buffer area of 515.00 sq. km. and a core habitat of 861.95 sq. km., the reserve has a total area of 1276.95 sq. km. The Reserve was the 2016 winner of the India Biodiversity Award in the "Conservation of Threatened Species" category for its Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme.

Ideally situated in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, Pakke Tiger Reserve borders Tenga Reserve Forest to the north, Doimara Reserve Forest to the west, and Nameri National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam to the south. It was formerly known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, which was renamed in April 2001 by the government of Arunachal Pradesh. It is widely recognised for its rich species diversity, which covers the zone of convergence that connects the Malayan and Indian ecoregions. It includes an important portion of the Brahmaputra flood plains and the northeast Indian hills, which are key aspects of the region known for its tigers.

The Pakke Tiger Reserve has a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as subtropical broadleaved forests on mountaintops and tropical semi-evergreen forests alongside lowland plains and foothills. The region's ecological characteristics comprise woody lianas and multi-faceted vegetation with a rich epiphytic flora. The reserve has a subtropical climate, with cold temperatures between 12 and 36 °C (54 and 97 °F) from November to March. It receives 2500 millimetres (98 inches) of rainfall on average per year. The monsoon is generally not the ideal time to visit, but it is still possible.

Tigers in Arunachal Pradesh

Tigers in Arunachal Pradesh faced changes between the 2018 and 2022 national tiger censuses. In 2018, the census documented 29 tigers in the state, while the 2022 census revealed a decline to a total of nine tigers, marking a decrease of 20 tigers from the previous count.

Measures being taken:

To enhance tiger protection, habitat preservation, and overall wildlife conservation, the Arunachal Pradesh government, as well as the local communities, have implemented various measures. One notable initiative involves the establishment of Ghora-aabhe Self-Help Groups, which successfully seized 56 items linked to illegal wildlife activities in Pakke Tiger Reserve, underscoring the significance of community engagement in wildlife conservation.

Additionally, in October 2023, the Arunachal Pradesh cabinet approved the formation of a dedicated Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) for Namdapha, Pakke, and Kamlang tiger reserves. Complying with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines, the STPF will have a specialised structure, comprising one company of 112 personnel for each of the three reserves.

Despite the fact that 75% of the world's tigers are found in India, the actual number of tigers around the world is much lower in terms of their population. This highlights the critical role that conservation sites play in preventing the extinction of threatened species. In addition, we have a responsibility to protect their natural habitat and to avoid contributing to the decline of endangered species.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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