The quadrennial Tiger Census kicked off in the early hours of Wednesday, raising excitement levels among volunteers participating in the survey. The volunteers, dressed in green to match their surroundings, were seen eagerly jotting down information in forms provided for the survey.
The participants were visibly excited at having seen the diversity of wildlife inside the reserve forests. Volunteers and personnel from Forest department had to brave the chilly December weather, as they set out for the survey around 6.30 pm. Walking along the beats, to which they were deputed, some participants, especially students, had the fortune of experiencing wildlife.
Chetan, a Forestry College student, from Ponnampet, said, participation in the survey provided practical experience in addition to theory taught in classrooms.
“Experience in the wild is different from the lessons in classrooms. We will have practical experience if we walk inside the forest. I have been fortunate enough to participate in the survey,” he said.
The survey was also a first experience for forest guard Pramod, who was the leader of a team of five members. “I was under training during the elephant census, and could not participate. Today, I am participating in the Tiger Census, which is both a happy and an exciting experience,” he said.
Director of Biligiriranganatha Tiger Reserve and Conservator of Forests S S Lingaraju said, the Forest department was installing camera traps inside the reserve for the first time. “Earlier, wildlife NGOs used to install camera traps. However, information sharing by these NGOs with the department was very less.
Now, with the department installing camera traps, we can use the photographs of tigers and other animals for conservation measures,” he said.
He said, a total of 100 cameras, with thermal sensors, have been installed in the reserves, which will capture images for 40 days. The camera can capture 3,500 images during the period, he said.
Wildlife experts have estimated the presence of one tiger per 10 square kilometers. As per the estimate, there might be around 50 tigers in the reserve, he said.