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    Tiger population rises by 12 per cent in 2010

    New Delhi: The tiger population in India has risen by more than 12 per cent in the last three years. As per the tiger census, which was released on Monday, the estimated population of the big cat in India stands at 1,636 up from 1,411 in 2007.

    The Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, who released the census report on Monday, said that more areas including Sundarbans has been counted this time, which has 70 tigers.

    "Clearly the good news is that the Tarai belt is showing very good results in 2010. The numbers in the Northeast are quite worrisome, much below the carrying capacity of the Northeast. Central India is cause for worry because this is where there is very good tiger habitat. The tiger occupancy in northern Andhra Pradesh and central India has gone down so it's really that triangle of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that has the singe largest conservation of tigers. So that's good news. In Sunderbans the state government's estimate is 200 (but) our view, our numbers are much more realistic, they are based on scientific measures and I think the single biggest challenge in 2010 has been the Sunderbans," said Ramesh.

    In the Shivalik-Gangetic plains in north India, the big cat count is now 353 up from 298 as per the 2007 census. However, the central India region has not shown any improvement. The tiger population remains fixed at 601 as before.

    On the other hand, in the Northeast, the figure is up from 100 to 148. Moving to the Western Ghats, the area has recorded a marked increase in the count. There are now 534 tigers as compared to 412 in 2007.

    Sundarbans in West Bengal where tiger population assessment wasn't done earlier has recorded 70 tigers. So the total count of the national animal stands at 1706.

    But after excluding Sundarbans, where the assessment wasn't done before, the figure stands at 1636, which means it is a 12 per cent increase from the last census.

    But the big cause of worry is that though the tiger number is up, the tiger occupancy area has come down by as much 20,000 sq km. However, Central India and Eastern Ghats has 601 tigers, the same as the last time. The Western Ghats has 534, the Northeast and Brahmaputra floodplains have 148 tigers.

    The second all-India tiger estimation study was carried out in the designated 39 tiger reserves across India.