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Sunderban Tiger Reserve: Tigers Reaching Carrying Capacity


Sunderban tiger reserve: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Sunderban tiger reserve: Context

  • Recently, a study by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have suggested that the density of tigers in the Sunderban tiger reserve may have reached the carrying capacity of the mangrove forests.

सुंदरबन टाइगर रिजर्व: टाइगर्स रीचिंग कैरिंग कैपेसिटी

Tigers Reaching Carrying Capacity: Key points

  • Availability of food and space is the primary factor that determines how many tigers a forest can hold.
  • So, low density of tigers in the Sundarbans is an inherent attribute of the hostile mangrove habitat that supports low tiger prey densities.


Sunderban Tiger Reserve: Tigers Reaching Carrying Capacity_40.1


Carrying capacity of tiger

  • In the region of Terai and Shivalik hills (for example Corbett tiger reserve), 10-16 tigers can survive in 100 sq km.
  • The density decreases to 7-11 tigers per 100 sq km in the reserves of north-central Western Ghats such as Bandipur tiger reserve.
  • This density further reduces to 6-10 tigers per 100 sq km in the dry deciduous forests, such as Kanha tiger reserve, of central India.


Carrying capacity of Sunderbans

  • A joint Indo-Bangla study in 2015 pegged the tiger density at 85 per 100 sq km after surveying eight blocks of the Sunderbans.
  • The ongoing WII study indicates a density of 3-5 tigers in the Sunderbans.
  • The carrying capacity in the Sunderbans is “at around 4 tigers” per 100 sq km.


Sunderban Tiger Reserve: Tigers Reaching Carrying Capacity_50.1


Tigers Reaching Carrying Capacity: Consequences

  • The study indicates that the increased density will lead to frequent dispersals and a surge in human-wildlife conflict.
  • Perceived conflict can squeeze the tiger’s domain, and then tigers will be bound to overstep from time to time, leading to further conflict with no immediate winners.


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