DNA testing in Palamau
Not a single tiger sighting was recorded in the Palamau Tiger Reserve during Phase I of the Wildlife Institute of India’s all India tiger enumeration study. Based on spatial occupancy data, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had suggested a low tiger density ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 per 100 sq. km.
The Jharkhand Forest Department authorities recently announced that they will employ the latest DNA techniques to determine the number of tigers in the reserve. They have also approached the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) to develop a foolproof method to differentiate between individuals. Forest officials claim that the tiger population in the reserve is gradually improving but according to some reports, Naxalites and armed gangs control much of the forest.
Recently, the NTCA held a meeting in Delhi with field directors of 12 of its ‘troubled’ tiger reserves including Palamau. The other ‘troubled’ reserves reviewed included Panna, Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam, Namdapha, Dampa, Simlipal, Kalakad Mundanthurai, Valmiki, Manas, Buxa and Sanjay Dubri.