Hopes rest on tiger census
A STAFF REPORTER
Guwahati, Oct. 23: Forest officials in Assam are hoping that the tiger census next month will project the correct picture of the population of the big cats, as the last estimate showed considerably low figures.
“We only hope that the correct and real picture of the tiger population in Assam will emerge this time,” S. Chand, the chief wildlife warden of Assam, told The Telegraph today.
The process to count the big cats starts in the Northeast next month, as officials from the Wildlife Institute of India are coming to Kaziranga to brief the officials.
The 2005-08 census pegged the tiger population in Assam as 70, which was received with shock and disbelief by tiger experts in the region.
A senior forest official said a three-day regional training and capacity building workshop for field officials of the Northeast would be held at Kaziranga from November 17 to kickstart the process.
Officials from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram will attend the programme.
An eight-day protocol for primary and field data collection will follow the regional training workshop.
The Wildlife Institute of India will co-ordinate the collation and analysis, in collaboration with outside experts, with guidance by a specially constituted core committee.
The plan is to count tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat in protected and unprotected areas of the states using a refined methodology.
The census will be a collaborative exercise between the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Wildlife Institute of India and states with tiger habitats.
Chand said the Centre has classified tiger reserves in Assam in two categories.
While Kaziranga has been classified as “good” and Nameri as “satisfactory”, Manas has been classified as “poor”.
The other tiger reserves, Dampa (Mizoram) and Namdapha (Arunachal Pradesh), were classified as “poor” while Pakke in Arunachal Pradesh has been classified as “good”.
“The tiger scenario in Kaziranga is good, while Nameri requires more effort and in Manas, efforts are on to increase the tiger population,” Chand said.
Encroachment and militancy are the major problem in Namdapha while in Dampa, poor tiger density is the result of ecological problems.
Manas was placed on the “poor” list as there were not enough anti-poaching camps, manpower and infrastructure to protect the tigers in the reserve.
Camera trapping of tigers in Assam has been started by Aaranyak in Orang and Kaziranga, in collaboration with state forest department.