Guwahati, July 30 (IANS) With 200 Tigers, the population of big cats in Assam has increased to double, Minister for Environment and Forest, Parimal Suklabaidya said on Thursday on the occasion of the Global Tiger Day.
According to an official statement, the International Tiger Day or Global Tiger Day was observed in Assam's Manas, Kaziranga, Orang and Nameri National Parks and Tiger Reserves along with the rest of the country on Thursday.
While observing the international day at Bansbari range of Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve (MNP &TR), Field Director of the Manas Tiger Project, Amal Chandra Sarmah, highlighted the conservation success story of the big cat with a three-fold increase in its population.
"From nil to 48 tigers in 20 years, the MNP & TR has come a long way as conservation of the big cat is concerned," he said.
Appreciation certificates were given away by the Field Director to those personnel who were involved in the last phase of monitoring the tigers.
A book titled 'The Tigers of Manas' was released on the occasion.
Assam has a total population of 200 tigers with Kaziranga 121, Manas 48, Orang 28 and Nameri three tigers.
Minister Suklabaidya, during whose tenure the tiger population has registered an increase, said that the conservation of tigers and their natural habitats is crucial to maintain the health and diversity of an ecosystem.
"The increasing numbers of the big cats should encourage us to pursue conservation and habitat restoration with the same unwavering commitment. The numbers will continue to be on the upswing if we keep on with regular afforestation practices and increased awareness about tiger conservation.
Let us pledge to save the habitat of this beautiful, majestic and magnificent animal to protect our ecology," he said.
He said that the increase in tiger population in Assam and other parts of India augurs well at a time when there has been a decline in the population of the big cats elsewhere.
"Assam in particular and the country as a whole has been able to reach the goal of doubling its tiger population four years ahead of schedule of the St.Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation," the minister stated.
Out of the four tiger reserves, three -- Kaziranga, Manas and Orang -- have got National Committee of Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS) accreditation.
As expansion of the green cover happens to be vital to provide habitats to tigers and other wildlife, the Forest Department has been on a massive plantation drive across the state with focus on the degraded forest areas.
Under French and internationally funded project, 10 crore saplings were planted in the past five years.
The Environment and Forest Department has set a target of doubling the plantation of trees to expand the green cover in the next five years. The state has registered an increase of almost 222 sq km of new forest areas.
The theme of this year's Global Tiger Day is "Save Forest, Save Wildlife: Their survival is in our hands".