Early Royal Bengal Tiger Sighting at Assam's Kaziranga Park Brings in Tourists for New Year

Early Royal Bengal Tiger Sighting at Assam’s Kaziranga Park Brings in Tourists for New Year

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Jessica Agarwal can count herself really lucky that she was able to get a royal click of the majestic Big Cat in its natural best in the dying moments of 2021. Agarwal, who hails from Punjab came across the rare opportunity as she now resides at Jorhat of Upper Assam and after a long wait of 35 minutes when she snapped the full grown Royal Bengal Tiger along with the migratory Bar headed Geese- a picture that she would frame and put up on her wall proudly.

“The tiger was sighted near the water body of the Central Range of the Park in Bagori. Though there were inputs of the tiger moving around, it didn’t come out from the tall elephant grass the whole day. Being a wildlife photographer, Jessica was willing to wait till the day fades. Suddenly the golden yellow coloured, fulyl grown Royal Bengal tiger showed up walking majestically along the water. The Bar headed Geese in the foreground completed the frame turning it into a perfect composition to end the day and possibly the year too,” says Bishwajit Chetri, Guide & Photographer at the Kaziranga National park.

According to the young tourist guide, sighting of tiger this year in the park has been early and not during the usual January to March period. From November to December this year, Bishwajit himself has seen over 20 Royal Bengal tigers.

“Last tourist season there were more than 70 sightings of the tiger. A clear indication that tiger population in the park has increased sizeably. However the most promising aspect to this phenomenon is that the park famed for its large population of one-horned Rhino is also fast turning into a prime destination for tiger sighting and photography as well.

As per the All India Tiger estimate in 2018, Assam has a total population of 159 tigers, 104 in Kaziranga, 31 in Manas, 21 in Orang and 3 in Nameri and the number increased to 200 in 2021, a forest official said. Kaziranga has 121 tigers as per phase IV tiger monitoring in 2020 while Manas has 48 tigers.

As per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), apart from tigers dispersing from Bhutan and Myanmar, there are two major source populations of tigers in the north eastern India – the Kaziranga landscape comprising the Kaziranga National park along with several other protected areas in Brahmaputra floodplains; and the Pakke landscape which includes Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh and Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam.

While Pakke has recorded a decline in tiger numbers in 2018, Kaziranga landscape has been successful in maintaining the pace of increase in its tiger population. The Kaziranga National Park, also a UNESCO World heritage site was declared a Tiger Reserve in the year 2007.

“Kaziranga is blessed with the lush green cover and this make photography here such a pleasant experience unlike other parks of the country,” added Chetri.

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