The tiger population is growing in Kerala with 190 big cats roaming its forests and the State scoring maximum points in mean Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE), according to the Status of Tigers in India-2018 report.
Kerala scored the highest mean MEE score of 90.23 among the 18 tiger States of the country.
The latest Kerala tiger figures mark an increase of 54 individuals against the 136 of 2014, according to the report.
When it comes to the MEE of individual reserves, the Periyar Tiger Reserve scored 93.75% and Parambikulam, the second reserve in the State, 86.72% and was rated as very good in terms of management effectiveness.
The tiger population of the State was estimated to be 46 individuals in 2006, which increased to 71 when its population was estimated four years later in 2010.
Though not a tiger reserve, Wayanad houses the maximum number of tigers in the State with an estimated population ranging between 75 and 80 individuals. During an internal survey conducted in 2017, Forest Department officials could capture exclusive images of 74 individuals.
Since its stripes are unique to individuals like the fingerprints of humans, the photographic identification of the animals based on its stripes can be considered as an accurate counting method. However, one also needs to be aware of the foraying character of the animals and the possibility of overlapping of tiger population in the adjacent tiger habitats, cautioned an official.
Incidentally, the Wayanad tiger area shares its boundaries with the Nagarhole and Bandipur tiger reserves.
Though the 2018 tiger report does not speak about the population of tigers in the individual tiger reserves, the forest areas that come under the Periyar Tiger Reserve are considered to be the home of around 30 to 35 individuals. The dossier of the PTR has digital images of 30 individual tigers captured during the internal assessment done in 2017, said an official.
The PTR shares its boundary with the Meghamali and Srivilliputhur forests of Tamil Nadu.
The population estimation of the large felines in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has put the presence of the animals between 20 and 25. The reserve authorities have succeeded in camera-trapping 23 individuals during the internal assessment. Parambikulam shares its borders with the Anamalai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu.