Q: Are the number of tigers present in India accurate? I mean other than the national parks and the sanctuaries, are there no tigers left elsewhere? For example the forests of Goa, Uttar Kannada (not the Anshi-Dandeli Reserve), places like Karwar and the whole belt upto Mangalore?

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Answer from: Dr. Ullas Karanth, Director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS):

The overall tiger numbers being reported by the Government, based on the Wildlife Institute of India’s surveys once in four years, are generated from a weak methodology and hence not very robust. The complicated, ‘double-sampling’ based regression model they use is a somewhat flawed and obsolete approach. Further, the quality of their estimates of tiger densities from individual sites that feed into this model vary. There are … Read More

India to Establish a National Database of Camera-trapped Tigers

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This piece originally appeared in the journal Oryx: Volume 47- April 2013.

Following the adoption of refined protocols for intensive annual monitoring of source populations of tiger (see Oryx, 46(4), 480), India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is now following through by establishing a country-wide database of wild tigers captured in cameratrap surveys conducted by multiple research and governmental institutions at increasing intensity across the country. The objective of this project is to assign Unique Tiger Identification (UTID) numbers to … Read More

Manual Review — ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’ (edited by Simon Hedges)

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Monitoring Elephants the right way: A Synopsis of the Manual titled ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’.

Elephants are social, group living mammals revered by people across diverse cultures in the world. Once widely distributed across a range of ecological conditions, currently distribution and abundance of elephants have both dwindled drastically throughout its range due to habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching. India holds the largest population of Asian elephants surviving today.

In spite of its conservation significance, elephant populations across … Read More

Field Survey of large mammals (transect surveys) and training program on their population monitoring methods — Call for Volunteers by WCS – India

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Field Survey of large mammals and training program on their population monitoring methods 

Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program and its partner Centre for Wildlife Studies are conducting field training camps for monitoring large mammal populations for the field season 2013. These field workshops will be held at several reserves in Karnataka including Dandeli-Anshi, BRT, Bhadra, Bandipura and Nagarahole. Some of the methods taught will include:

  1. Estimation of large herbivore populations
  2. Relative abundance estimation of large carnivores using scat encounter rates
  3. Demo
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Innovative Sign Surveys and Modeling for Tropical Forest Ungulate Densities

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Habitat destruction, hunting and socio-economic pressures are leading to low densities of large ungulates in tropical forests. With traditional population assessment methods proving to be unreliable, the need for innovative applications that tackle issues of imperfect detections becomes paramount.

A. M. Gopalaswamy, K. U. Karanth, N. S. Kumar and D. W. Macdonald estimate forest ungulate densities using abundance models of occupancy. These are the highlights of their study published in the journal Animal Conservation in 2012.

  • A field survey of
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Chilika – A Shade Less Pink?

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In the winter of 2011-2012, I had the unique opportunity and privilege of being in Lake Chilika, Odisha, for a total of 40 days. While there were many resident and migrant birds to admire, Greater and Lesser flamingos, which used to be regular and abundant visitors to Nalabana Island inside Lake Chilika, were noticeably few. Population studies (done between 2001 and 2005 by scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society) show that around 5000 Greater Flamingos used to arrive until … Read More

BPL – 123, Tale of a Leopard

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This one belies the field guides and the natural history books, which usually dismiss the leopard’s diet as “scrounging on smaller prey.” In actual fact, leopards are powerful predators that routinely kill fairly hefty prey such as spotted deer and sambar fawns.

Even so, Vinay S Kumar’s photograph of a leopard dragging a gaur calf is not a sight you see everyday. The picture, which was taken in Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve, shows a male leopard dragging his massive kill … Read More

A Wildlife Survey along the Khanduli River, outside Ranthambore

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The river Khanduli emanates from the Mansarovar dam, situated south of Ranthambore National Park and heads along the Eastern boundary of Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary. It gradually drifts Southeast and merges with the mighty Chambal, in the National Chambal Sanctuary. The Khanduli flows through a mixed-use landscape comprising of forest, agricultural fields and plantations. However, like the Chambal, the Khanduli river floods heavily during the monsoon and as a consequence the most dominant features along its course are its ravines. These … Read More

Annual Tiger Census to Start in Arunachal Pradesh this Month

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The annual tiger census in Arunachal Pradesh will be conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) this month. The tiger numbers in Namdapha and Pakke, the two tiger reserves in Arunachal, would be determined using scientific methods and reputed NGOs are to be involved in the process. The NTCA will provide all the equipment necessary as well as the training required for the field staff. Camera traps are to be placed at a distance of 1 km for 35 … Read More

Why the ‘Pugmark Census’ Used to Monitor Tiger Populations Failed

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In 2003, some highly respected conservationists got together to write a paper for an international journal, in which they laid bare the loopholes in the pugmark method of counting tigers in India. Shortly thereafter, in an extraordinary sequence of events, newer and more advanced methods were used to assess the tiger population, which resulted in the shocking denouement that there were only about 1411 tigers in India. Read on to discover how the scientists rated the old ‘pugmark census’.

The … Read More

Using Multiple Sources of Information to Estimate Tiger Densities

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In landscapes where wildlife occurs in low densities, gathering information from a single data source often does not permit accurate estimation of population densities and abundance. In such cases, using multiple data sources may allow us to overcome ecological and logistical constraints to estimate densities of elusive carnivores such as tigers. In particular, innovative spatially explicit capture-recapture modeling approaches integrate information from photographic capture-recapture and genetic data to derive more robust estimates of tiger densities in India.

Authors A. M. … Read More