Path-breaking study in tiger enumeration techniques
Heralded as a path-breaking study, recent research by a group of Indian scientists may render current tiger enumeration techniques obsolete. The new method used DNA collected from faecal samples to count tiger numbers.
The team comprising Dr. Anish Andheria, Director – Science, Natural History and Photography, Sanctuary Asia, Samrat Mondol and Uma Ramakrishnan of the National Centre for Biological Sciences and K. Ullas Karanth, N. Samba Kumar and Arjun M. Gopalaswamy of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Centre for Wildlife Studies conducted the study in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.
Researchers gathered 58 tiger scats, identified individual animals using their DNA and compared the results with data collected from camera traps to arrive at an accurate estimate of tiger density in the area. In the past DNA was collected by sedating the animal and collecting blood and tissue samples and figures were based on camera trap results. The authors say that this new non-invasive technique represents a powerful new tool for measuring the success of future conservation efforts. Camera trapping, while extensively used and largely accurate is often hindered by logistical constraints.