Maha’s Tadoba reserve records 65 tigers

Chandrapur: In an encouraging development, the tiger population in and around Tadoba?Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) has been shown to be going steady with 65 big cats being reported to be inhabiting this wildlife belt, forest officials have claimed.

There are at least 65 tigers in the area, excluding the 20 odd cubs sighted in the area, which is quite encouraging, TATR chief conservator of forests and field director Veerendra Tiwari told PTI.

The figure has been reached after the tiger monitoring exercise held in the reserve between April 1 and May 31, 2012, during which the movements of felines in various parts under TATR were monitored by as many as 94 camera traps, Tiwari said.

“There are a minimum of 43 tigers in TATR while at least 20 carnivores are present in buffer area (around the core reserve), besides presence of two animals being reported in the adjoining FDCM (Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra) area,” he said.

Spread over 625 sq kms of area, TATR is known for high density tiger population. On the accuracy of the census, Tiwari said even the figures on population census at the national level might not be accurate point-to-point, despite the fact that people have a specific address, locality and other details for contact. It is likely that some individuals might miss the census drive for some reasons or the other.

“In case of a tiger, it is free to roam in any area of its choice and its territory ranges from 35 to 50 sq kms and hence, none can be sure to trap it in the cameras installed for the purpose until the animal sticks to its usual trail or track,” he stressed.

“All that I can claim is that there are a minimum of 65 tigers in the territory,” the official said.

Explaining the technicalities involved in the arduous task of tiger census using camera trapping method, he said usually automatic cameras are installed in known tiger trails/tracks that keep capturing the images when any animal crosses its sensor.

Later, the images of the tigers captured in the cameras are analysed using software that determines the identity of individual animal from its unique ‘stripes pattern’.

The exercise also involves determination through ‘capture and re-capture’ method, for assessment of accuracy in identification of individual tigers.

Citing examples, Tiwari said, “We had captured images of as many as 27 tigers in buffer zone but the images of only 20 tigers could be ‘recaptured’ during the exercise and hence we are sure that there are minimum 20 tigers, despite the images of 27 being recorded.”

On the same lines, there are at least 43 tigers in TATR, he added.