Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang-Kamlang-Namdapha Block has an estimated 29 tigers which are at risk because of a power project and a dam.
An HT report quoting the Status of Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India report (2018).
The confirmation of the big cat presence based on scat samples and camera trap images comes amid concerns about the proposed diversion of large forest areas around Dibang Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for a power project and a dam.
Experts say the projects will impact both the tigers and their prey.
The 3,097 MW Etalin Hydropower Project will impact 1150.08 hectares and the Dibang Multipurpose Dam 4,577.84 hectares in the unclassified state forests and other community lands.
Both are under different stages of the Union Environment ministry’s consideration.
Two adult individual tigers were photographed in the sanctuary in 2018 during the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)’s tiger estimation, according to the report.
Dibang Valley holds unique importance for in-situ conservation of this ‘unique and genetically diverse lineage of tigers’ as the local aboriginal community of Idu Mishmis considers tigers as their elder brothers, it added.
One adult tiger was photographed in Dibang Valley during the estimation process in 2014.
The 2018 estimation has recommended discussions with Idu Mishmis before proceeding with any notification of the sanctuary as a tiger reserve.
Wildlife Institute of India (WII) researchers identified 11 individual tigers, including two cubs, during a three-year camera trap-based study in the sanctuary and the Mishmi hills.
They published their findings in the Journal of Threatened Taxa in 2018.
But WII, in a report titled Wildlife Conservation Plan for the Impact Zone of Etalin HEP, said there was no tiger presence in the project area.
Environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee in its factsheet had said Etalin Hydropower project is located in sub-tropical evergreen and rain forests and in a vital tiger area.