Dec 30, 2013
It is official. The counting of tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat in the protected and non-protected areas of the states for the all India tiger estimation 2014 will be held in the state from January 16 to 23. The exercise, a collaborative initiative of NTCA, Delhi, and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, is conducted every four years and was last held in 2010 in the 17 tiger bearing states. This year, two more states – Goa and Nagaland – have been included. With refined methodology, the exercise was earlier conducted in 2006 and then in 2010. In 2006, the number of tigers was estimated at 1,411 followed by 1,706 in 2010. The increase is low as compared to the over 4,000 tigers that roamed the forests a decade ago. Talking to TOI, APCCF (ecotourism & wildlife administration) V K Sinha said, “In Phase I, we will roughly cover 5,500 beats (smallest administrative units of forests). Each beat will have one transact line. First three days will be for herbivore followed by recording of carnivore signs,” Sinha said. He added this time some parts of Gadchiroli and areas like Dhulia will be included in the exercise. Forest minister Patangrao Kadam claimed Maharashtra had 200 tigers in 2013. This was the same number claimed by officials in 2012, when most of the poaching took place. Even if this is considered true, still the state lost 68 tigers as per the census conducted once in four years in 2005, when there were 268 tigers. Only a perfect and honest estimation will throw light on the number of tigers. This time the exercise seems to be conducted in less number of beats. In 2010, it was the drive was conducted in 6,271 beats in PAs as well as non-protected areas, including tiger-bearing patches in Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). The Phase II will include use of remote sensed data to generate landscape and related indices, while Phase III will involve use of camera traps and distance sampling for computing densities of tigers. During Phase III, expert teams from WII will visit states to monitor the process and collect data. Under the ongoing centrally sponsored scheme (CSS), 100% assistance will be provided for conducting the eight-day field protocol towards primary data collection.
Phase I (Forest Department): Carnivore sign survey, ungulate encounter rate and habitat quality by beat level sampling done in 10-15 sq km. A beat is taken as a unit. 3 persons on an average will search the beat looking for pugmark trails, scats, scrapes, scent marks, rake marks on tree trunks, actual sighting and roaring. In next 3 days, volunteers will search in the 2km transect lines variety of features like broad forest type, terrain type, mammals and peafowls, species, group size vegetation in 5 plots of 400 metres.
Phase II (WII & NTCA): Will study occupancy and relative abundance and landscape complex characterization with the help of remotely sensed and attribute data in GIS followed by modelling patterns underlying tiger occupancy and source population and connectivity.
Phase III (WII & Forest Dept): Stratified sampling based on Phase I & Phase II for tiger density, capture-recapture framework, Ungulate density-distance sampling and convert indices to density and numbers.
Phase IV (WII, NGOs): Intensive monitoring of source population with the help of photo identity, sign surveys for three months before coming out with a final figures.
As posted in Toi.