‘The Tiger Is Not Only A Charismatic Animal; With It We Are Conserving Pristine Forest Areas Contributing To Water Security.’
The tiger number has risen to 2,967. How did you carry out the count?
Tigers are counted based on their stripe patterns which are akin to human fingerprints. These stripe patterns are recorded through camera traps which are placed in forested habitats to identify individual tigers. In addition, factors which influence tiger numbers like habitat, prey availability and human disturbance are recorded through structured field protocols as well as remotely sensed data. This year camera traps were placed at 26,880 locations spread across 141 sites for mark-recapture analysis. Tigers were estimated directly within camera trapped areas. In areas with tigers, but not camera trapped, the figure was arrived at by extrapolation based on joint distribution of covariates. Out of 2,967, the number of individual tigers that have been camera trapped is 2,461.
Is such an increase possible when tiger habitats and occupancy areas are shrinking?
Yes. Though there is no significant change in tiger occupancy areas in the last few years, most of the source areas have shown improvement and hence the increase in numbers. Occupancy for dispersing tigers and isolated population of tigers in low-density areas depend on multiple factors such as availability of prey, congenial habitat, presence and absence of co-predators and level of biotic interference, which keeps on changing in dynamic ecosystems outside tiger reserves and other protected areas.
While explaining things about the recent tiger census in India the head of the National Tiger Conservancy Authority, or Project Tiger, also played down critiscm about the tiger census.
He trivialises the change from including the 1 year old cubs (which was 1,5 year olds) and he says there is no significant change in tiger occupancy areas.
Also he neglects the presence of individual wildlife lovers taking part in the census.