Govt plans yearly census of tigers

Govt plans yearly census of tigers

Come November, a team of wildlife scientists and forest officials will fan out to 41 tiger reserves to collect tiger data using camera traps.  The annual monitoring exercise, said Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, will help in getting regular updates on the number and health of tigers across the country.

The tiger census released in March had thrown up a national estimate of 1,706 tigers in 38 out of 39 tiger reserves. The big cat count actually produces a range suggesting that the number of tigers can vary between 1,571 on the lower side and 1,875 on the upper.

The counting excludes Indravati in Chhattishgarh where officials could not enter due to Maoist threats. But notwithstanding the exclusion, India accounted for 60 per cent of world's tiger count.

Special initiatives will be taken to strengthen the management in problematic reserves like the Indravati, Similipal, Palamau and Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam tiger reserves. The counting will expand to two new tiger-bearing forests.

The tiger monitoring protocol will use camera traps, at a density of 25 double-sided cameras per 100 sq km and a minimum trapping effort of 1,000 trap nights per 100 sq km. The prey population monitoring will be conducted simultaneously.

This will provide a yearly indication of the status of critical tiger populations around the country, and will be critical to long-term management and conservation of tiger populations. In addition, there will be “snapshot” country-level estimation to be conducted every four years, covering all tiger areas.