Dec 26, 2013
The world’s biggest exercise to count the number of tigers in India started this week. Preliminary reports from remote forest reserves indicate India’s tiger population may be better than the 1,706 in 2010, and as data is likely to be progressively more thorough, the credibility of the count will be higher, with 530,000 man hours spent in counting the big cats. The nightmare figure of 1,411 of 2008 is behind us, but the warning signs are clear even as 2013 turned out to be a worrying year for the big cats. Around 39 tigers have been poached in India so far this year—the highest since 2005. Extensive studies by the National Tiger Conservation Authority caution us that while the state of tigers at India’s 53-plus reserves is fairly good, those outside the protected areas are much more at the mercy of poachers who try to satisfy insatiable demand from China and the Far East for tiger claws and skins for souvenirs.With the crush of population showing visibly in man-animal conflicts and man’s own predatory behaviour towards wildlife, India, which has over half the world’s tigers, has a greater task on hand than many nations in preserving its natural heritage. During the census, 130 cameras would be placed at key and vantage points in Bandipur and then at other jungles for camera trapping. The objective is to get a photo identity of the big cats and the software developed by the authorities would help ascertain specific features based on the stripes of each. The data collected by volunteers and the camera trapping results will be extrapolated by scientists to arrive at an estimation of the number of tigers. The same protocol would be followed in other national parks. The habitat evaluation would help identify if there were any areas bereft of tigers or other carnivores which could help ascertain the reason for it. A fallout would be intervention measures to improve wildlife habitat so that the spill-over animals could reclaim the forests.
As Posted in Indian Express