17 states launch year-long tiger census
Posted: Thursday , Jan 07, 2010 at 0231 hrs
Seventeen tiger states have, for the first time, simultaneously launched a massive year-long wildlife census to come up with an accurate estimate of the tiger population in the country. The exercise christened “Monitoring tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitats” is being conducted employing the line-transact and camera-trapping method as opposed to the earlier pugmark and waterhole census.
Since the tiger fiasco in Sariska and Ranthambore in 2005, the government has decided to come out with more precise figures using the more accurate and scientific line transact method. The forest beat in each territory would be considered as the sampling unit and areas within the beat having maximum potential of tiger occupancy would be searched.
Trainings of senior officials from various states was completed in November-December 2009 and the recording of data is scheduled to begin this month and end by the first week of February. It will then be sent to NTCA where compilation of data will be done followed by analysis and interpretation. “The whole process is likely to be over by November when we are hoping to declare the results, including the number of animals, at the international seminar on tigers planned at Ranthambore,” Y V Jhala, senior scientist at Dehradun’s Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which is co-ordinating the massive effort, said.
Inaccuracy was known to creep in into the pugmark and waterhole census with alleged fudging of figures by state Forest Departments. “In the new method, our beat guards will be covering their beat along with two aides for about eight days. For the first three days, they will take round of the beat covering five km and registering GPS records of calls, feaces, pugmarks, hair, bones, kills and such other signs or actual intercepts of animals. The next two days will be for laying line transacts passing through different parts of the beat with maximum possibilities of encountering animals. It will be followed by fresh recordings along the transacts,” said Maharashtra Chief Conservator of Forest , A K Saxena.