Census of Similipal big cats concluded
Statesman News Service
BARIPADA, Jan 9: The big cat census which started on 5 January in Similipal Tiger Reserve concluded today. It is being done by the pug mark method and with the help of simple equipment as opposed to the camera trap method.
The census assumes much significance in the light of shocking reports of vanishing tigers elsewhere in the country and wildlife institute reports on Similipal, that the number of tigers had dropped massively. The figures were contested by the state forest department last year and questions were raised on the method adopted by the wildlife institute.
But since the controversy last year, census had not been undertaken and therefore the count concluded today is of great importance.
Reports will be available only after the pug marks collected over the last five days are studied, said sources here.
Mr R Nagraj Reddy, conservator and field director said that the census of the big cats encompassed 2,750 sq km of Similipal Tiger Reserve and 272 sq km of Kulidha wildlife sanctuary in Balasore district because of its contiguity with Similipal Park.
It may be noted that the last census carried out by the officials here was in 2004 and it had claimed that Similipal was home to 101 Royal Bengal Tigers and 126 leopards.
Since then only the wildlife instituted had carried out a count by adopting the camera trap method and put the figures at less than 30 in 2006-07.
Forest officials here had refuted the findings and had assured to undertake a fresh census on their own.
Foresters, rangers, retired forest staffs, NGOs, and professors students of Zoology department of North Orissa University, some volunteers and experts had been engaged for the census.