Panaji, Apr 15 (PTI) Encouraged by sightings of tigers in parts of four wildlife sanctuaries in Goa, the state forest department has decided to identify core areas in them that it feels could be declared as a “tiger reserve”, subject to the approval by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

A detailed mapping of the movement of tigers will be conducted in the wildlife sanctuaries of Mahadayi, Mollem, Cotigao and Netravali–located in the Western Ghat region.

“The department in the year 2016 and 2017 had laid camera traps in certain parts of the wildlife sanctuaries that confirmed the presence of tigers in those areas. There were direct sightings through the camera traps,” said Ajai Saxena, State Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF).

The findings through the camera trap method were encouraging against the backdrop of the department’s Tiger Census, held in the year 2013, not finding any direct evidence of wild cats in the state’s wildlife areas.

Saxena said that tigers were sighted in areas bordering Goa and Maharashtra, especially in the hill range of Chorla Ghat.

“The tiger density in the tropical forest is low. But still we are sure that there is a possibility of presence of tigers in the wildlife sanctuaries of Mollem, Netravali, Mahadayi and Cotigao,” he said.

Saxena said the department would soon work out a detailed map to identify core areas in the Western Ghat that could be declared as a tiger reserve.

He said a proposal for mapping the areas for the tiger presence would be placed before State Wildlife Board, headed by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

“Once we get the approval from the Board, the proposal would be forwarded to the National Tiger Conservation Authority for their final approval and funding,” he added.

In 2011, Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change had asked Goa to consider notifying Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve.

However, as the then government failed to take any action, the Centre had sent a reminder to the state government in 2014.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.