Now, photo identity cards for tigers

Avatar BCR | October 9, 2009 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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Now, photo identity cards for tigers

M Madhusudan New Delhi
Friday, October 9, 2009 New Delhi

If humans can have unique identity cards, why can’t the big cats? Tigers across all 37 reserves in the country will have their respective photo ID cards.

The Centre has okayed a proposal by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to replicate the Kanha (Madhya Pradesh) model of allotting each tiger an identity card across all the tiger reserves located in 17 States. A decision in this regard was taken during the fourth meeting of the NTCA a couple of days ago.

Authorities at Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh have so far photographed as many as 69 big cats and profiled them in a photo-directory.

Just as the fingerprint of a human being differs from the other, each tiger has a unique stripe pattern or skin print. This, NTCA officials say, will help boost the country’s tiger conservation efforts in more ways than one.

“It will give a concrete evidence of the presence of the tiger in a particular reserve thereby laying to rest any speculation about its presence or disappearance. It will help make their monitoring and tracking more effective given that the identity card will also have their detailed profile. Further, it will help establish an authentic photo-directory, inventory or database of the tigers, both in the form of a physical album and a digitalised one,” they said.

“We have issued an advisory to all the 17 tiger range States to keep an ID-card, specifying the details of each tiger in their sanctuaries. The idea is to strengthen tiger conservation at the ground level,” Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary, said.

Though officials admit that photographing every tiger isn’t possible, nevertheless, the drive will cover a sizeable number of nearly 1,400 tigers in the reserves.

Profiling big cats

PNS New Delhi: Photographs of tigers taken by the camera traps, by the field staff, tourists and visitors to the reserves and through any other source like blogs, coffee-table books, magazines etc will be used to make the identity card.

The difference in the stripes or skin print will help the officials differentiate them and ascertain if the big cat was the same one whose photograph was already in the album of the reserve or a different one that hadn’t been clicked. It will also help generate interest among the forest officials amid a growing concern about the dwindling number of the big cats.

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