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A dream come true for volunteers

A dream come true for volunteers

Imran Khan
First Published : 25 Jan 2010 04:17:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 25 Jan 2010 06:10:36 AM IST

BANGALORE: It was a “dream come true” for BS Ranganath. “This is my first time as a volunteer for the tiger census and I was desperate to feel the forest and wanted to see a tiger,” said the 31-year-old financial consultant who was one of the 200 volunteers who had come down to Bandipur for the unique and rare experience of being part of a tiger census.

The census started on Friday in all the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of the state to understand the habitation and population dynamics of the big cats.

The census gave rise to a lot of excitement among the people towards the event in general and forests and tigers in particular.

“I am getting this chance after a gap of three years and I did not want to miss it,” says Raghu Raman, a wildlife photographer by passion and a stock broker out of compulsion. Raman is thankful to the forest department for allowing public participation in the exercise.

The volunteers have come from all over the state but mostly from Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli and Dharward, says KT Hanumanthappa, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Bandipur.

They are put through a day of training and taught how to identify carnivore signs such as pug marks, scat, calls, direct sighting and counting angulate encounter rates using the line transect method, said Hanumanthappa.

The volunteers are then placed in the 103 beats (basic unit of administration in a forest division), from where they carry out carnivore sign survey and angulate encounter rates, alternately for six days.

The process has been divided into three phases. In the first phase, the forest department carries out the tiger estimation with the help of NGOs and volunteers.

The second will see the creation of a landscape chart using the remote sensing data by the Wildlife Institute of India. The third phase will be of stratified sampling of 5 per cent of the total tiger inhabited area in the country by using the camera trap technique.

“After completing the three phases, we will get the final data and a conclusion will be drawn about the density of the tiger population of Bandipur,” says the DCF.

There were 103 tigers in Bandipur, according to the 206 census. However, officials here say that the number could go up this time to around 130.

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