Apprehensions about depletion of prey base in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), generated after reports of tigers hunting rhinos surfaced, were dispelled by a recent survey conducted in three areas of the wildlife sanctuary.
The survey was conducted in Dudhwa National Park (DNP), Kishunpur Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary (KGWS) by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
Based on scat (droppings) analysis of the big cats and their prey species including spotted deer, wild boars, swamp deer, hog deer, barking deer, langoors, among others, it was concluded that prey and predators have increased.
"WTI survey has highlighted the fact that numbers of both prey as well as predators have increased which can be attributed to adept habitat management and wildlife protection," said Field Director and Chief conservator of forest (CCF) Shailesh Parasada.
The CCF said the density of tigers has increased, as reported by the survey, hence this would be reflected in the numbers as well.
During camera trapping under Phase three in DTR, the density of tigers in Dudhwa National Park came around 7.88 per km, he said.
As per the report, the number of tigers comes to around 72 in DNP, 32 in KWS and 23 in Kishunpur.
Total number of tigers in DTR tallies at around 127.
According to the WTI report, DNP has the highest density of big cats and prey species, followed by Kishunpur and Katarniaghat sanctuaries.
The WTI teams scanned 149.2 sq km area of DNP including Sathiyana, Dudhwa, South Sonaripur and Belrayan from December 2011 and January 2012 and found a total of 80 scats of big cats, which tallied at 53 per cent.
Similarly, in 91.77 sq km area of Nishangada and Katarniaghat areas of KWS, the ratio of scat collection of big cats tallied around 32 per cent while in 201.81 sq km area of Mailani and Kishunpur areas in KWS, it was around 26.5 per cent.
The WTI survey corroborates the report of the last tiger census which described density of the big cat in Dudhwa as 7.9 per km as compared to 4.9 of 2007.