Wednesday, 6 May 2015

NEWSLINK: INDIA: Tiger census begins in Pilibhit reserve, Kishanpur Sanctuary

Amid doubts raised by environmentalists over the capability of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) and the WWF (India) (Worldwide Fund For Nature) staff to count big cats, tiger census commenced simultaneously in PTR and Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, which is an integral part of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in Kheri district on Tuesday. The final outcome of tiger count would be announced in July. 

The tiger counting was initiated on Tuesday from Haripur and Barahi forest ranges of PTR. Sub divisional officer of PTR DP Singh told TOI that census in the other three ranges would be taken up in the second phase after an interval of some 20 days. He said Haripur forest range of PTR was adjacent to Kishanpur sanctuary and in view of the inter-territorial movement of the tigers, it was essential to ensure synchronization with tiger census schedule of Kishanpur. 

Asked if duplication of tiger count would occur in the event a tiger from either reserve strayed into the other, coordinator of WWF Mudit Gupta, who is stationed in Kheri district, said it would require minute scrutiny of pictures of tigers captured on camera to identify which big cat belongs to which area. He explained that a tiger is a territorial animal who occasionally strays beyond its marked territory. Consequently, there would be few pictures of a tiger of a specific territory in another territory in case it strays. But careful scrutiny was indispensable at both PTR and the Kishanpur WS to reach a precise conclusion about the exact presence of tigers in each area, he added. 

Gupta said the Kishanpur sanctuary spanned an area of 203 sq km and tiger counting would be completed there in a single phase. 

A joint team of WWF and the forest staff had identified 69 sites of tiger movement in Kishanpur and one camera set was being installed at each location. The installation of cameras would be completed within two days and the picture capturing devices would be removed after 40 days, Gupta said. The SDO of PTR said a total of 80 territorial tracks of tiger movement had been identified in the two ranges of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve — of these 38 cameras would be installed at Haripur range and 42 in Barahi range. He said that to capture pictures of big cats at each track, a total of 80 camera sets would be installed within the next three days. 

D P Singh said the cameras would remain installed for 15 to 20 days at both ranges areas and the counting team members would download the "captured" pictures from cameras. The team would also monitor if the cameras had been disturbed and were functioning properly. When asked about the total strength of the manpower engaged in tiger counting work at PTR, the SDO said the project manager and project officer of WWF, Naresh Kumar and Rohit, respectively would monitor the counting exercise. Rohit would also help supervise the headcount of big cats in Kishanpur. 

The Haripur range comprises nine forest beats while Barahi has 11 beats. One forest guard as permanent staff member and four forest watchers on daily wages were deployed at each beat while one forester each would oversee two to three beats. 

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