|Fresh tiger census in the offing
The Hindu, March 30, 2009
Delhi (PTI): An year after "scientifically" estimating the big cats'
population at nearly 1,411 in the country, National Tiger Conservation
Authority (NTCA) is gearing up to revise the head count by conducting a
fresh census later this year.
To be conducted in association
with Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), likely from
October, the census methodology will be similar to that conducted in
the previous count when camera traps were extensively used which were
considered to be accurate.
"Like last census, this time too
scientific assessment of the population will be done, thus giving us a
comparative data, indicating decline or rise in number of the tigers in
reserves spread across the country," sources in the environment
ministry told PTI.
The NTCA, monitoring Tiger Project in the
country, early last year had released a report 'Status of Tigers,
Co-predators, and Prey in India 2008' painting a grim picture of tiger
population at 1,411 with variation of 17.43 per cent, the lower limit
stands at 1,165 and the upper limit at 1,657.
"A team of
88,000 forest staff and 50 field biologists led by WII had carried out
the census within the span of two years begining 2006. However, this
time the task is likely to be executed maximum within six months
covering almost all the tiger landscapes," the sources said.
are being prepared to train the officials to carry out the exercises
which is quiet elaborate but considered to be accurate.
2003, pugmark spottings were used to determine tiger population, which
is considered unscientific. Also, data was said to be systematically
fabricated to show an increasing trend in population.
was the first time in 2008 that the WII census used actual tiger
sightings using camera traps, pugmarks and faeces for the tiger count.
the scientific methodology adopted in the last census in distribution
ranges of the predator's prey, the report said, "Robust statistical
approaches like mark-recapture and distance sampling to estimate
absolute densities of tigers and their prey were used.
"Covariate information was generated using remotely sensed data and attribute data using GPS."
submission of the report several steps have been taken to boost
population of the royal predator including declaring tiger reserves as
critical tiger habitat as well increasing relocation package from Rs 1
lakh to Rs 10lakh.
On the darker side, there have been
alarming reports of tigers deaths from reserves like Kaziranga and
Kanha and man-animal conflicts from other areas.