A tiger census has been stalled midway in Jharkhand's Palamau Tiger Reserve due to presence of Maoists in forests, an official said Sunday.
'We are unable to monitor tigers due to strong presence of the Maoists. The work has been stalled and we are seeking help from local people for the tiger census,' Manoj Singh, director of Palamau Tiger Reserve, told IANS over telephone.
'We are trying to complete the census by May-end. The data will then be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII),' said Singh.
The reserve is spread over an area of about 1,100 sq km. As per a census in 1974, there were 50 tigers in the reserve. The wild cat population today stands at 17.
According to another forest official, appeals have been made to Maoists through local people not to disturb the tiger census. 'We are asking local people to persuade Maoists to allow census scientists venture into deep forest for collecting data,' said the official on condition of anonymity.
The reserve has around 200 elephants. The fauna found in the reserve includes deer, monkeys, peacocks, hens and rabbits.