Kolkata, July 14: Amid concerns that tigers may have disappeared from West Bengal's Buxa Tiger Reserve, foresters have claimed that the habitat of the big cat has shrunk to a small area on the foothills.
"Tigers have not disappeared from Buxa. The habitat has moved to the foothills of Buxa which are close to Bhutan border. Tiger habitat is there on both sides of the border," a top forest department official said.
He said human settlement along the forest and cattle- grazing have forced tigers to move away from their habitat, which once spread across Buxa forest in north Bengal.
The last census, based on scat analysis and pug mark identification, indicated that there are three tigers in BTR, which borders the forests of Bhutan and Assam's Manas Tiger Reserve.
As no photographic evidence was found despite the presence of camera traps, many wildlife experts have raised doubts about the presence of big cats in Buxa.
When asked why no tigers been caught on camera so far, another forest official said the jungle is very dense which makes the animal tough to spot.
State Wildlife Board member Biswajit Roychowdhury, who had participated in the last census, said they had found evidence of the presence of the big cats along Bhutan border but were not sure whether they were resident tigers.
"We found evidence but it is tough to say whether those tigers whose pug marks and scat we found in Buxa are residents or transitory ones coming from Bhutan," he said.