Nationwide tiger census in January 2010

The much awaited tiger census will begin on January 22, 2010, and experts are optimistic that the government’s conservation methods after the last census’ shocking figures, should have helped protect the cats.

A regional training was held from November 10 to 12 at the Bandipur tiger reserve for forest officials. Now, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in coordination with the central government, various state forest departments and Project Tiger will undertake a detailed study of 17 states.

Speaking to DNA, a senior WII official said, “After a detailed scientific study in the last census, it was found that an average 1,141 tigers reside in India. We believe that measures have been taken to ensure safe habitat for these animals. The death of 59 tigers from January to November this year is worrying.”

Madhya Pradesh topped the charts last census, housing an average 300 tigers, while Karnataka was second with 290. The state recorded a forest cover of 40,236 sq km, with tigers occupying 18,715 sq km. The Nagarhole-Mudumalai-Wayanad forest area of 10,800 sq km houses about 190 tigers, while the Kudremukh-Bhadra patch of 7,054 sq km houses about 58 tigers. The Sharavathi Valley-Dandeli-Khanapur belt that spreads across 7,309 sq km has about 33 tigers.

The next census in January will be taken in two parts. The first session of eight days will begin on January 22, where primary data will be collected from all forest departments through filed surveys. Officials who have undergone the regional training will train subordinates to carry out the surveys, with help from NGOs. A special core committee has also been constituted to overlook the work, said additional principal chief conservator of forests BK Singh.

The survey will comprise tiger population, prey density, herbivore and carnivore count and forest details like human habitation, cattle grazing, vulnerable areas and condition of protected areas. The data will include collection of scat samples and foot plasters of carnivores, droppings of various herbivores, GPS reading of trails and transacts and vegetation survey. The compiled data will be sent to WII.

Based on this, for the first time ever, WII will set up camera traps in 30 locations of low, medium and high density at Bandipur, Nagarhole, Periyar and reserves in Tamil Nadu. The final report will be released in November 2010, a WII official added.

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