Now, Aadhaar-like ID numbers for tigers

Now, Aadhaar-like ID numbers for tigers

Now, Aadhaar-like ID numbers for tigers

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has come forward to allot unique identification (UID) numbers for tigers in the reserve forests of the country.

This comes at a time when ‘Aadhaar’ identity cards, based on bio-metric details, are being given to the citizens. Providing identification numbers to the tigers is aimed at strengthening measures to protect the big cats. A national database has come into being for the purpose.

There are 41 declared tiger reserves spread over 17 states in the country. Tiger census is carried out in the country once every four years. The last such census, held in 2010, put the big cat numbers at 1,706. Of these, 650 tigers will be given UID numbers in the first phase of the project.

Camera trapping will be the method used for enumerating the tigers. The method is already being used for the big cat census. Cameras, installed on either side of the tiger corridors, take close pictures of the big cats. The pictures are then used for identifying the animals through their unique stripes. Many wildlife protection organisations are using the reliable method of camera trapping to monitor and study the movement of tigers.

The UIDs for the tigers will have English alphabet codes that identify the zone (based on the six geographical zones of the country) as well as the tiger reserve they belong to. For example, a tiger in the Bandipur National Park will have the code WG-BNP-1. While WG stands for Western Ghats (the geographical zone), BNP denotes the Bandipur National Park.

UID numbers are given to tigers whose left and right sides are recorded in the camera trapping method. All details about the big cats captured on camera are then available in the national database. The NTCA has developed a new software for the purpose. The UID details will help identify tigers immediately in case of natural death, poaching or migration of tigers from their natural habitat.

The numbers will also help ascertain in which reserve the poachers have killed the tigers whenever tiger pelts are recovered. The new system will help tighten the screws on poachers, say Forest officials.

Vijay Mohanraj, Conservator of Forests and Director of the Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Tiger Reserve, told Deccan Herald that they had received directions on giving UIDs to tigers. He said they were expecting grants for installing cameras in the reserve. Once the grants are received, tenders would be called for installing the equipment, he said. The tiger pictures will be sent to the NTCA, where the big cats will be given the UID numbers, Mohanraj said.