Caught on camera: Sikkim’s Royal Bengal Tiger

Two clear images of a Royal Bengal Tiger going up and down a path beside a camera trap laid at 9,538 ft have provided the first visual evidence of a tiger in the Himalayan State of Sikkim. “The images were captured on the night of December 6 at 6.23 p.m. and 7.00 p.m. near Goru Jurey inside Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, East Sikkim,” Dechen Lachungpa, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), East Wildlife Division, Government of Sikkim, told The Hindu . “We got to know about the camera trap images only a couple of days ago when the images of camera traps were inspected,” she added. According to the DFO, the area where the tiger was photographed shares a boundary with the Tibet Autonomous Region under the control of China and Bhutan.

Ms. Lachungpa said that while there were sightings and oral records of tiger presence in Sikkim till the 1980s, there was no photographic evidence to confirm the presence. S. T. Lachungpa, DFO of Khangchendzonga National Park said that in 2017 there were reports of a cattle kill at a place called Theng and pug marks of tigers were found in the area. After the first camera trap images confirming tiger presence in Sikkim, the State Forest Department is planning to install more camera traps at higher altitudes with the aim of obtaining more evidence. The development also assumes significance as it comes only a few weeks after a tiger was spotted in the snow-clad Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh, at a height of 3,630 m.

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