The sanctuaries were divided into five geographic clusters. Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary and Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary emerged as the best managed tiger reserves in the country. The top performers scored 93.75%. The Dampa and Rajaji reserves, in Mizoram and Uttarakhand respectively, were left at the bottom of the ladder with a score of 42.97% and 44.53% respectively.  A score of 41% and above was marked as ‘fair’ and those 75% and above rated ‘very good.’

State wise performance
Kerala had the best kept reserves followed by Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh was the ‘least performing State’ in reserve management.

Why Pench performed best?
Pench was a well-managed reserve because it had a season-wise biodiversity plan as well as flying squads and tactical patrolling for managing security. There were regular meetings with local communities and funds collected from tourism were largely making it to the authorities for conservation purposes, the report added.

However, there were challenges too. The National Highway 7 passing through the Pench sanctuary also bisected the Kanha Pench tiger corridor and had been responsible for tiger deaths. There were also several cases of electrocution deaths of animals.