Bhubaneswar: Following the reports by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on the number of tigers in Odisha which was at variance with its own, the State Forest department has decided to conduct a fresh tiger census in Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district from April 17.
Talking to OTV today, Sidhant Das, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden of Odisha, said the Forest department had conducted tiger census in all sanctuaries in the state. But as the NTCA has given a report on the number of tigers in Similipal National Park that differs from its own assessment, the department has decided conduct a fresh tiger census to crosscheck the number the NTCA has mentioned in its report.
“To obtain correct information on the exact number of tigers in the Park, the department will use camera trapping method by installing 500 CCTV cameras in the core area of the Park to track the movement of the super cats. The census work will continue till April 30. After the census is completed, we will compare the number of tigers in the Park with the number we had found in the earlier census in which we had adopted statistical method and pug mark method,” he added.
Bijay Ketan Patnaik, wildlife expert, said an accurate figure on the number of tigers in the Park can be arrived at by using the camera trap method.
“Usually, camera trapping is done in 3-4 stages. By installing 500 CCTV cameras inside the Park, we will get the exact number of tigers in the Park and be able to argue with the NTCA authorities who had calculated the number of tigers in the Park by installing a few CCTV cameras. Apart from this, NTCA, in its report, had also mentioned the average number of tigers in other sanctuaries in Odisha without installing cameras in these places. Now that we have decided to installed more CCTV cameras inside Similipal National Park, we can tell the NTCA about the exact number of tigers and they are bound to accept our contention and correct the figures they had mentioned in their report,” Patnaik claimed.
It may be mentioned that the NTCA, after its tiger census in Similipal in 2014, had stated that the number of tigers in Odisha had come down over the years. According to its report, there were 45 tigers in the state in 2006 which came down to 32 in 2010 and 28 in 2014.
But the state government did not accept the report and conducted a fresh tiger census in 46 wildlife divisions in the state except Similipal National Park from February 5 to 10 this year in which it had used about 20,000 pug impression pads (PIPs) and 800 CCTV cameras.
After completing the census in these wildlife divisions, the Forest department has decided to conduct a fresh tiger census in Similipal National Park.