Foresters cheer 2nd tiger photo in north Bengal hills

Kolkata, Feb 6 (IANS) A second photograph of a tiger in the hills of north Bengal, where big cats are rare, has brought a ray of hope to conservationists.

The image was captured by one of the several camera traps installed by the West Bengal Forest Department in and around the Neora Valley National Park in Kalimpong.

This was following an alert, earlier in January, when a driver of a private vehicle photographed the animal inside the park. It was the first photographic evidence of the big cat in three decades.

The driver was on his way from Pedong to Lava inside the national park when he managed to photograph the animal and alerted the forest department.

Then again, on January 23, a picture was taken from one of the four camera traps that were set up.

“The tiger looks mature. This is good news for us,” Sumita Ghatak, conservator of forest, wildlife, north Bengal, told IANS.

However, officials are yet to ascertain whether both the images represent the same tiger. Ghatak said more camera traps would be set up in the area.

“This is very good news for tiger lovers,” Nitin Desai of the Wildlife Protection Society of India told IANS.

“This means whatever the source of population of tigers nearby is, it is growing there and dispersing to newer areas,” Desai said, adding the sightings call for sustained conservation efforts in the region.