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Tiger Spotted at 12,000 Feet in Uttarakhand
Aug 03, 2016

Forest officials in Uttarakhand have found evidence of a tiger at 12,000 feet, leaving experts electrified with excitement. Camera trap images show the big cat prowling at Askot in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district at an altitude that is generally the habitat of snow leopards.

Bilal Habib, a scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, who captured the images as part of an ongoing project on biodiversity conservation, said this was the highest location in India where a tiger's presence had been confirmed.

  • There are some old British literary documents which mention the sighting of tigers at high elevations but there's been no scientific or photographic evidence regarding this.
  • The highest altitude where a tiger's presence has been recorded is in Bhutan, where the striped cat was photographed at over 13,000 feet.
  • Tigers have been found in Uttarakhand at altitudes varying between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.
  • This information did not make public immediately since a lot of green area in Pithoragarh is outside protected areas.
  • Concerned authorities did not want to put the safety of the tiger at risk as the area is located quite close to the Nepal border which has been witnessing frequent movement of poachers.
  • The wildlife department is coordinating with its counterparts in Nepal, and also with the state police, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) for intelligence sharing and beefing up security for the tigers.

In 2009, wildlife experts across the globe were baffled when pugmarks of a Royal Bengal Tiger were spotted in the snow at an altitude of 10,000 feet in the Himalayas near Jelepla in eastern Sikkim.

Officials had then called it a rare discovery. The pugmarks were seen in the Ganek-Lungto area in eastern Sikkim.

Experts suspected that the tiger might have crossed into Sikkim from Bhutan through the Pangolakha wildlife sanctuary, which is a forest extending into the neighbouring country.

Tigers have been reported to prowl in the forests of Lachen and Lachung in northern Sikkim at an altitude above 8,000 feet, but sightings have been rare.

The tigress whose images were recorded appeared to have come to Askot through the Kali river. Although such sightings are uncommon, tigers at high altitudes of 12,000 to 14,000 feet have been found surviving in Nepal.

International Tiger Day: International Tiger Day, also known as Global Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation, held annually on 29 July.

Tigers lost 93% of their natural habitat due to the expansion of cities and agriculture by humans.

Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which lead to a higher risk of inbreeding. These small islands of habitat also make tigers more vulnerable to poaching.

One of the world’s largest tiger populations is found in the Sundarbans—a large mangrove forest area shared by India and Bangladesh on the northern coast of the Indian Ocean. This area harbors Bengal tigers and protects coastal regions from storm surges and wind damage. However, rising sea levels that were caused by climate change threaten to wipe out these forests and the last remaining habitat of this tiger population.

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