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Pugmark-based Population Monitoring Protocol for the Tiger & other Large Felids

Without reliable estimates of tiger numbers, it is not possible to assess whether measures such as bans on the tiger bone trade are effectively reducing tiger losses. Precise, cost effective techniques of population monitoring that can be widely used by field managers are therefore urgently needed.

A commonly used method to determine the population size of big cats is the pugmark technique. It is based on the theory that an individual animal leaves a distinct pugmark (paw print). Plaster casts or photographs of the cats’ pugmarks are taken from their range and then analysed by experts to determine the cat population of the area.

A recent study conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India tried to establish whether tiger pugmarks are an effective way of identifying individual animals, and whether they provide reliable information for monitoring and counting tiger populations.

WPSI is now supporting a follow up study on the viability of the pugmark technique in estimating the size and structure of big cat populations. The project includes field trials of the pugmark method to assess its potential for population monitoring of tigers and three other big cats - the Asiatic lion, the leopard and the snow leopard.

The project aims to develop a cost effective, field-friendly, accurate and replicable monitoring protocol for tigers. At the same time, it is gathering quantitative evidence that the pugmark technique can be used for population monitoring of other big cats.

Sandeep Sharma under the supervision Mr. H.S. Panwar, Ex-director, Project Tiger and Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Mr. V. B. Sawarkar, Director & Dean, WII and Dr. Y.V.Jhala, Sr. Reader, WII is carrying out the project.

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TIGER DEATHS IN 2016
 Mortality                 74
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___________________
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LEOPARD DEATHS IN 2015
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       Total                 397


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