Hopes for surge in India's tiger population
Camera traps record 118 tigers in India's Kaziranga National Park
The chances of spotting a tiger on tours through India could be improved significantly with hopes of a surge in the population of the big cats in the country.
New research has found that the number of tigers present in Kaziranga National Park, one of India's biggest tiger reserves and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the rise.
Conservation organisation Aaranyak used camera traps to record the presence of 118 tigers in the park, an increase in similar population surveys carried out in each of the past three years and up on 2011's figure of 106.
Kaziranga National Park, located in the northern state of Assam, was declared an official Tiger Reserve in 2006 and has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world.
Commenting on the latest figures, state forest and environment minister Rakibul Hussain said: "When the hope for tiger conservation is fast dimming all over the world, forests in Assam continue to offer the best habitat for this charismatic animal."
But it is not just the immediate area that could benefit from the growth in tiger numbers.
Aaranyak hopes that the tiger population of Kaziranga, which is a source population for the entire northeast, holds the key to conservation of tigers in neighbouring regions and states, including the Karbi Anglong Hills and the foothills of Arunachal Pradeshon on the north bank of the Brahmaputra.
"This growing population of tigers could disperse to other suitable habitats in Assam and adjoining states. And this scenario brings into focus the need to properly maintain corridors for such dispersal of wild animals," Aaranyak secretary general Bibhab Talukdar explained to the Times of India.
He added that it is likely that the protection measures for rhino conservation in the region have benefited the tiger and prey population, causing them to increase.