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First ever tiger census has fruitful count in Karnataka

The Pioneer
New Delhi
18 Jan 2018

The first ever tiger census in Karnataka, using digital app, with its completion on Sunday has had fruitful count to the cheers of the forest conservation. The Tiger census as part of the All India Tiger Estimation-2018 (AITE-2018) has covered Five tiger reserves — Bandipur, Bhadra, BRT, Kali and Nagarhole, a national park — Kudremukh, three wildlife sanctuaries — Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri and Talacauvery in Karnataka has one of the highest tiger population in the country.

For the first time the officials have used a mobile app Developed by Wildlife Institute of India, called M-STrIPES ( Monitoring System for Tigers Intensive Patrolling and Ecological Status) which made both gathering and recording of data easier. According to forest officials with all the data records (be it of prey or habitat) digitised, chances of errors are less. Any data recorded in the app will be directly transferred to the main server if there is internet connection, otherwise it gets stored. Further, the app provides instant analysis pertaining to issues of poaching or patrolling. The software link provided gives access to the installable version of MSTrIPES an integrated program for GPS aided Spatial Patrolling and Ecological Assessment of Tiger Reserves and Protected areas.

According to Manoj Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) and Nodal officer the tiger counting went on well with the help of trained and new recruits.

He said “The participation of new recruits has made a big difference to the census work. They have not only made a difference in protection work in tiger reserves but also easily adapted to new technology. In fact, their acceptability and ability to learn made it possible to make a smooth transition to digitisation.” “The forest staff was trained well in advance in adapting to the technology. Almost 90 per cent of the work was done on mobile phones which made data collection easy, he added.”

As many as 251 volunteers took part in the survey. However, credit should be given to over 1,000 Forest Department staff who took the burden of entire responsibility of census.

According to forest officials, direct sightings of tigers were recorded in Bandipur, Nagarhole, BRT, Bhadra and Kali tiger reserves. However, in Bhadra and Kali, due to dense forest cover, there were less sightings but good signs of tiger presence. The carnivore sign survey resulted in sightings of tigers in Kundukere range and in Bandipur, Maddur, Moliyur and N Begur ranges. Leopards were sighted in the Moolehole and Moliyuru range, according to Ambadi Madhav, Director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

Herbivore sign survey also resulted in the sighting of number of elephants in Maddur, Kundukere range, Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, Moolehole and Omkar range and Moliyur range.

The officials said from January 8 to 13, as many as 18 tigers, 8 leopards, 224 elephants, 63 wild dogs, 56 bison, hundreds of deer, and other wild animals were sighted. Similarly more then 15 tigers and other animals were sighted in Nagarahole National park during this period. According to officials these sightings are only a broad indicator of the carnivore and prey density in a given area. The actual tiger figures will be arrived at after collecting all the data and subjecting it to vigorous analysis through statistical methods.

Forest officials say the sightings of the big cat indicate healthy population which might surpass previous records. Karnataka has highest number of Tigers in the country. The previous national tiger census in 2014 pegged the big cat population at 2,226 , up from 1,706 in 2010. Uttarakhand with 340 tigers had the second largest big cat population in 2014. Karnataka topped the list with 406 tigers. Madhya Pradesh (308) and Tamil Nadu (229) were the other two states with substantial tiger population.