Orissa to get fair deal in latest Tiger census

Posted by: Joydip & Suchandra Kundu on

 

The annual tiger enumeration is set to commence in March
and this time around, camera trap technique will not be the only method to be
used to count the big cats.

The last enumeration at Similipal where camera trap methodology was used
and yielded in a low count had led to a huge uproar. Orissa lodged a protest
with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and some other states too
joined in.

This seems to promote NTCA and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to adopt a
more comprehensive methodology.

In fact, state heads of wildlife wings met at Corbett National Park last week
and discussed the matter threadbare.

According to Chief Wildlife Warden PN Padhi, camera trap will be part of the
enumeration methodology but not the only one. While GPS techniques would
also be used to get a clearer view of the entire exercise, conventional
methods of pug mark will be assessed too.

“The methodology will factor in prey base, predator population, tree felling
indices while using the latest technology like camera trap.

This will give a holistic view of not just the big cat population but also of the
ecosystems where the enumeration will be carried out,” Padhi said.

Orissa had certain reasons to worry about the methodology WII used last time
at Similipal. While the conventional pug mark census in 2004 had pegged tiger
population at a whopping 132 (which critics say is way too high for the park),
the 2006-08 method (when camera trap was used) put the cat count at 45 in
the entire State. For Similipal, it was just 20.

The Wildlife Wing then objected to the census result saying the cameras used
were too few in number and their coverage area was not a proper sample of
the entire tiger park.

The new methodology, Padhi hopes, would yield indices which can compare
with each and give a correct representation of tiger population in the State.

In fact, the NTCA and WII have prepared comprehensive guidelines for forest
field staff who will carry out the enumeration unlike last time when the WII
had deputed the census teams.

“Since the guidelines are in English and Hindi, we are translating them to Oriya
to be circulated among field officials for necessary training.

We hope to start the enumeration by the first half of March,” said the Chief
Wildlife Warden.

 

The New Indian Express dated 21.2.2010

Courtesy_Biswajit Mohanty