Camera traps to ascertain tiger population
10 Nov 2008, 0838 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Rattled by reports that the Panna Tiger Reserve is heading the Sariska way where poachers have wiped out all the big cats, the Madhya Pradesh government is banking on camera traps to ascertain the actual status of the tiger population in the park.
"We have asked the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for camera trapping of the stripped animals in the area to put to rest all controversies regarding the number of big cats," Madhya Pradesh Chief Wildlife Warden H S Pabla said.
Camera trapping is a preferred method over the pugmark method for estimating the number of tigers. The camera traps, equipped with an electronic switch and a camera, record tigers or other animals that walk in front of the gadget.
"Tigers have natural markings (stripes) and stripes of each individual are different.
"Photographs obtained from the cameras can be used to compare the identify of each individual tiger, thus making estimates reliable and easier, especially for animals like tiger," WII senior scientist K Sankar said.
He said the pictures obtained by camera trapping will also help solve the wildlife crime cases.
The move (to camera trap) has come following fears that the reserve, spread over 542.67 sq. km area, has not a single tiger to boast contrary to the officials claim that the park has suffice number of endangered predators.
"That the park has a very few tigers, is not true. The wrong picture is maligning the park's image among tourists. As per WII census conducted two years ago, there are around 15 to 32 big cats in the park," Pabla said.