Microchips to track straying tigers

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Microchips to track straying tigers

Ananya Dutta
Saturday, Jul 04, 2009

Kolkata: The big cats of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve that stray into inhabited areas will be tracked with the help of an electronic microchip implanted in their bodies, Reserve Director N.C. Bahuguna said here on Thursday.

A pregnant tigress, captured by employees of the reserve on Tuesday night, will be the first to be tagged with a microchip placed at the base of her tail.

An ear-tag will also be attached to the tigers, Mr. Bahugana said.

“Microchips are being introduced to track tigers that repeatedly stray into inhabited areas,” Joint Director of the National Tiger Conservation Authority S.P. Yadav told The Hindu on telephone from New Delhi.

Two incidents

The decision comes in the wake of two recent incidents of tigers straying into villages adjoining the forest. The first, a tigress, entered Adivasipara on Kumirmari Island and killed some livestock. Sources said she might have done so because she was pregnant and was finding it difficult to catch prey. The tigress was caught, medically examined and tagged. It will be re-released soon.

Yet to be traced

In the other incident, a tiger strayed into villages on Satjelia Island. Officials of the Forest department have not been able to trace it yet.

“The electronic chips will help us keep track of these tigers and enable studies into the causes for their straying,” Mr. Bahuguna said.

“As such we have seen that straying is more common in the rainy season and winters.”

The chips, which had been supplied by the Wildlife Institute of India for tracking elephants, are now being used by the reserve for tigers.

Order placed

“We have also placed an order with the Wildlife Institute for radio collars, which will be used to map the fauna of the reserve,” he said.

Radio collaring, DNA sampling, microchips and camera traps are being introduced by the reserve to obtain an accurate count of the number of tigers.

The last census was conducted in 2006, according to which there are 274 tigers in the reserve. Wildlife experts, however, claim the figure is inflated.



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