Baripada, June 4: Highly sophisticated 'Deercam' and 'Trainmaster' cameras were used for the first time in Simlipal Tiger Reserve (STR), spread over 2,750 sq km for tiger census.
The high-tech trap of trip-wires and auto-flash cameras were fixed on the poles of trees and other selected points for self-portraiting of the tigers.
This time, the high-tech method was introduced for the stripes and spots to get their more authentic count, STR Director Debabrata Swain said.
The wildlife experts are experimenting with this unique 'camera-trap' method and a range of other simpler ways of tiger head-counting in various reserves of the country. These methods are in their quest for a better alternative to the oft-doubted pugmark technique used by the tiger reserves.
A team of four wildlife scientists from the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) recently visited the STR and fixed as many as 60 cameras at 30 points in high-density tiger areas of the tiger reserve.
The STR Field Director said since each tiger has its own distinct stripes, the high tech cameras were used by wildlife scientists to arrive at a new and arguably a more reliable methodology of tiger densities in the wild, than the hitherto-used pugmark method.
Altogether 30 points of prey areas of Simlipal were selected, where the camera traps were set and the number of tigers inhabiting the areas were recorded on films.
With the figures obtained from these cameras, it would be possible to extrapolate the tiger density in other areas of the same forest on the basis of the prey-predator density analysis, experts opined.
The points selected for the high-tech camera trap included Upper-Barhakamuda, Bhanjabasa, Tarinivilla, Patbil and Debasthali, STR sources added.
Although, the census results would be known only after a detail analysis by the scientists of the WII, which would take some time, the census team had recorded on films six Royal Bengal Tigers (RBT) and eleven leopards in the aforesaid areas.
STR sources said during their 60-day long exercise (March 26 to May 26) at least three of the RBTs were found black or melanistic tigers burning bright in Simlipal.
Of the three black RBTs, all of them were females - two of them were again a mother with her cub, and the third was an adult female.
This reflected how the melanistic tigers were proliferating in Simlipal, experts said.
As per the 2004 Pugmark-based census, Simlipal is home to 101 Royal Bengal Tigers and 126 leopards, STR sources said