Camera trapping for tiger census in Orang
By A Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 11 For the first time in Orang National Park, camera
trapping the most reliable method of tiger census used all over the
country and Asia has been initiated successfully to estimate and
monitor the tiger population. Significantly, the method has already
yielded five tiger pictures during its trial run in the park. Orang,
as per the last census in 2002, had 19 tigers.
The research initiative has been undertaken by Aaranyak in
collaboration with the State Forest Department.
Camera trapping is the preferred method over the pugmark method for
conducting estimates of tiger. The camera traps, equipped with an
electronic switch and a camera, record tigers or other animals that
walk in from of the camera as a photograph of the animal.
"Tigers have natural markings (stripes) and stripes of each
individual are different. Using photographs obtained from the cameras
can be compared to identify each individual tiger, thus making
estimates reliable and easier, especially for animals like tiger,
leopard, etc.," Firoz Ahmed of Aaranyak said.
Ahmed said that the data from the camera traps would be available by
early next year and the park managers would have information about
the number of tigers in Orang by March. However, Aaranyak plans to
make it a long-term monitoring to compare tiger populations in Orang
across years, which will be vital for proper management of prey
animals and habitats in the park.
Monitoring tigers and prey animals through the use of modern
scientific techniques has become the need of the hour, as the tiger
population throughout the country is rapidly dwindling. Though
official estimates had put the country's tiger population around
3,500-4,000, present data indicate that there could be only 1,300-
1500 tigers left.
Assam recorded a tiger count of 265 as per the last pugmark census
carried out by the Forest Department in 2002.
The camera trap was inaugurated recently by BS Bonal, Chief
Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), in presence of S Momin, DFO
Mangaldoi Wildlife Division, Jayanta Deka, FRO, Orang NP and Bibhab
Kumar Talukdar, secretary general, Aaranyak.
Earlier, Aaranyak had carried out a tiger presence absence study in
Manas National Park, and a detailed tiger-monitoring programme in
collaboration with the Forest Department in the offing.
Aaranyak organized a three-days training programme on 'Monitoring
Tigers and Prey Animals: Advanced Training for Biologists and
Managers' in Orang recently as part of the ongoing collaborative
initiative of the Forest Department and Aaranyak to monitor tigers
and its prey animals in Assam.
The three-days training was meant for the biologists and forest
managers and it covered different aspects of tiger and prey animals
monitoring. These included general introduction on tiger, its ecology
and current status, concepts of population monitoring, sign survey
for tiger and prey animals, distance sampling and line transect
survey, capture-recapture sampling and camera trap survey, lab and
field exercises and data analysis.
The training was attended by seven wildlife biologists from Aaranyak
and seven Forest Department staff, which was inaugurated by the
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) MC Malakar.
For The Tiger
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