Tiger sightings: Good news for Buxa, Bengal
Jul 23, 2013, 03.20 AM IST

There have been several reports of tiger sighting by both villagers and forest staff of the reserve. But there are no camera trap photographs taken to justify the sightings.

This time, sightings were reported from the Kartika forest under north Raidak range earlier this month. Confirming the report, BTR (east) deputy field director Bhaskar JB said: "A villager from the Kanjulibasti had entered the forest opposite the Raidak river on July 2 for livestock grazing when he sighted the tiger. Soon, he rushed to the local range office and gave the description, from which it seemed he had really sighted a tiger."

Further confirmation came the next day when a full-grown tiger appeared before forest guard Maina Chetri while he was on patrol at Tiamari, close to the Kartika forest, under the same range. "We believe it's the same tiger that was sighted by the villager the previous day," added Bhaskar.

Buxa veteran Tara Thapa, who has spent several years in the reserve, said the place is only a few kilometres from the Kalikhola forests in Bhutan. "Hence, chances are high that it can be a dispersing tiger that has migrated from the Bhutan forests. It may not be a resident tiger," added Thapa, who is also the physical instructor at the forest training centre in Rajabhatkhawa.

According to the DFD, due to heavy rain the pug marks were washed away and the foresters were left with no proof to back their claims. Meanwhile, chief wildlife warden NC Bahuguna said the department was planning to conduct an extensive camera trap exercise, on the lines of the recently-concluded study in the Sunderbans, to put to rest the controversy over the presence of tigers in Buxa. "We have asked the WWF officials to conduct a feasibility study," Bahuguna added.

Sources said only three months back, a full-grown tiger was sighted in the forests of Chuniajhora under the Hatipota range. "Tiger sightings are reported every month by our forest guards. I am not interested in what the critics are saying since I know that there are tigers in Buxa," said field director of the reserve RP Saini.

A recent scat analysis report has confirmed that Buxa is home to 20 tigers, of which four are female.