International Tiger Day: Let’s take a look at Goa's tiger scenario

Venita Gomes

The Western Ghats have been home to tigers for ages. As Goa shares its border with Karnataka and Maharashtra, tigers have been spotted in Goa, too, while environmentalists in Goa claim that that Goa is also home to tigers.
With the help of camera traps, the Forest Department captured over 20 sightings of tigers in the Mhadei and Mollem wildlife parks during 2021-2022. And, as of July 12, 2022, the movement of tigers has been captured on 6 occasions. | Picture Courtesy: Paresh Porob
According to environmentalists in the state, mining is a major threat to the tiger population, and they have demanded a Tiger Reserve here.
However, the Goa Forest Minister, Vishwajit Rane recently said that Goa does not have any 'native tigers', but the sightings are of tigers which travel to the state from neighbouring areas. "The tiger is in transit and not native to the region," said Rane. And, hence ruled out the possibility of declaring the area as a tiger reserve.
The Goa Forest Department states that it has taken various measures for the protection and conservation of wildlife, including tigers, and all such habitats along the eastern border of Goa and encompassing the Western Ghats, are declared as protected areas under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 with 4 Wildlife Sanctuaries and one National Park.
The Department also ensures that Forest Frontline Staff are deployed along with trekkers for protection purposes, and also to combat any forest/wildlife-related offences at source and in transit. Even habitat improvement, including the management of grasslands, enrichment and plantation of fruit-bearing species, management of watering holes, removal of invasive weeds like Eupatorium spp, are regularly being undertaken in the protected area.
Protection camps have also been setup in Protected Areas. At the same time, camera traps have been placed at different locations to monitor the movement of wildlife.
Interestingly, in Goa, there is a tradition of tiger worship among the forest-dwelling communities. The temple of Vyaghreshwar, near Pissurlem, and Vaghrodev in Dongurli, Collem, are places that provide evidence of this practice. Moreover, in various parts of the state, there are shrines which are dedicated to tiger worship.

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