New Delhi: Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Ashwini Kumar Choubey revealed that the presence of melanistic or black tigers has exclusively been documented in Odisha’s Similipal Biosphere Reserve. The revelation came in response to a query from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Prashanta Nanda during the Rajya Sabha session. According to Choubey, the 2022 All India Tiger Estimation recorded a total of 16 tigers in Similipal, with 10 of them exhibiting melanistic traits.
During the session, the minister highlighted that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has implemented a standard operating procedure for the active management and rehabilitation of tigers in source areas at the landscape level. Notably, the Similipal Tiger Reserve has been identified as a distinct genetic cluster for conservation based on its genetic composition.
Choubey also mentioned that funding assistance is being provided to Similipal under the ongoing centrally-sponsored scheme of Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-IDWH). The allocated funds aim to support various conservation initiatives, including the protection and management of tiger habitats, awareness programs on big cats and wildlife conservation, eco-development, human resource and infrastructure development, as well as voluntary village relocation.
In the fiscal year 2022-23, the Centre released Rs 659.82 lakh to Similipal for these purposes. The funding figures for previous fiscal years were Rs 766.06 lakh in 2021-22, Rs 539.39 lakh in 2020-21, Rs 660.53 lakh in 2019-20, and Rs 650.88 lakh in 2018-19, indicating a consistent commitment to the conservation efforts in Similipal.