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Rare Sighting of Royal Bengal Tiger in North Sikkim Has Forest Department Excited

Rare Sighting of Royal Bengal Tiger in North Sikkim Has Forest Department Excited

The WWF is conducting a detailed survey in the region and has placed multiple camera traps across different locations in the state. It has also initiated a similar project for tiger conservation in West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

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Prakash Adhikary

Gangtok: A fresh new sighting of a royal Bengal tiger in Gamthangpu above Lachen in north Sikkim has got the state talking.

The national animal was spotted at an altitude of 3,600 m above sea level through camera traps set up by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as part of its special high-altitude tiger project under the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The WWF is conducting a detailed survey in the region and has placed multiple camera traps across different locations in the state. It has also initiated a similar project for tiger conservation in West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Forest department principal secretary-cum-principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) ML Srivastava told News18 that it has been instrumental in providing manpower for the project that laid out the camera traps.

Srivastava said the project has been up and running for four months now. The previous sighting in November last was through a different project under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Over the course of years, Sikkim has been accustomed to legendary stories of tigers being found, but those were mere oral evidence. In the last three years, there have been reports of cattle being lost to big cats, not being certain of what animal was feeding on them,” said Srivastava. “Since November 2018, we have had multiple sightings of the royal Bengal tiger here in Sikkim, which helps to confirm that the state is a thriving circuit for these big cats.”

The animal tends to take a circuit beginning in West Bengal, with the route passing through dense forests bordering Bhutan and Sikkim and reaching beyond the tri-junction area.

Apart from the royal Bengal tiger, the camera traps are said to have captured snow leopards as well, surprisingly at an altitude that is lower than their natural habitat. According to the forest department, this could have been due to an increase in snowfall over the winters as well as due to other herbivores shifting further downhill.

The department said other herbivores were not being hampered by the presence of these big cats and also denied an animal-human conflict.


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