A majority of tourists in Assam are enticed by the amazing wildlife and natural bounty of the north-eastern hilly state. While the one horn rhino and Asiatic elephants are prime attractions for wildlife loving visitors in Assam, the feline species also deserve mention. The tigers in particular are found in nearly all national parks of Assam and they serve as big draw for tourists. Of late, the Orang National Park has come into limelight after a report of tiger population in it shooting up to unprecedented level has come up.
The journey into prominence since inception
Spread over Assam’s Darrang and Sonitpur districts, Orang National Park is actually among the smaller national parks of the state. Located on the banks of mighty Brahmaputra River, the area was earlier the habitat of tribals who deserted it after an epidemic outbreak long back. In 1985, a sanctuary was established in the region and it was in 1999 it was declared as a national park. Since that time Orang has come a long way and in 2016, it was given the status of a tiger reserve. Owing to the strong resemblances of its landscape with that of popular Kaziranga National Park, it has often been referred as ‘mini Kaziranga’.
Related: Orang National Park of Assam
Tigers roar getting louder in Orang
While Orang National park becoming 49th tiger reserve of India was commendable, no one could anticipate it to emerge as the reserve with maximum tiger density within a year. The development is being seen as a big boost to the tiger conservation endeavors in Assam as well as Northeast India.
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As per the data obtained from the 2014 tiger population census in India, Kaziranga National Park emerged as the reserve with highest tiger density and it was followed by Uttarakhand’s Corbett National Park. However, the latest tiger estimation data points out Orang may have higher tiger density than Kaziranga. It is only a matter of time before entities like Wildlife Institute of India and National Tiger Conservation Authority confirm the finding officially. As per the latest data obtained from all-India tiger estimation’s 4th phase, Orang’s tiger density is approx 35.44 tigers/100 sq km. It also indicates that in last few years, number of tigers in the national park has grown substantially.
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What the future looks like?
The emergence of Orang National park as a haven for the big cats has come as a cheering news for tiger lovers and wildlife experts. However, the reserve’s field director Sunnydeo Choudhary feels certain steps need to be adopted to retain the growth in tiger population.
While the park’s core area is replete with animals (wild boar, hog deer) serving as prey for the big cat, there are some other issues that need attention. Despite stepping up vigil by the forest guards, instances of poaching have been reported in the park several times in 2017. Besides, the growing population of tigers in a relatively smaller area may lead to competition among the big cats for breeding and preying. This may eventually lead to more territorial fights and a number of tigers may move to the buffer area. This may make the animals encroach into nearby human habitats and conflicts with humans may increase as a result. However, the park authorities are planning to add more buffer areas to give the big cats enough territory and contain them. Augmenting prey animal base is another useful measure.
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