Two months too less for tiger census by new method: forest department

Two months too less for tiger census by new method: forest department

Vivek Deshpande

Posted online: Thursday, April 03, 2008 at 2331 hrs IST

The Maharashtra forest department isn’t yet sure about whether it will be able to hold the new line ? transact and camera-trap survey ? to count tigers this summer since the exercise requires sizeable deployment of skilled workers, scientists, equipment and funds, all of which are extremely difficult to be put in place within a period of two months.

Till last summer, the department used to undertake counting of tigers and other wildlife through the traditional pugmark and waterhole census method. However, the newly formed Tiger Task Force declared it outdated and unreliable, directing the states to undertake the scientific line-transact survey. Now the state Government is preparing to use the scientific method.

“Considering the kind of preparation it takes, I will request Project Tiger in-charge Rajesh Gopal to start the counting in winter,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) B Majumdar told The Indian Express. Gopal is arriving here next week.

The new method requires training of large number of personnel, mostly of the rank of guards. “We are planning two workshops this month and the census by May-end if possible,” Majumdar said.

“There are about 600 forest beats and as many beat guards will have to be trained. This is a huge exercise. Moreover, currently, the forest staff are busy as it is the tendu leaves plucking season. To have them undergo training right now will be difficult and will require funds for equipment like GPS systems,” Majumdar said.

An independent expert said, “It’s not so easy. It takes great effort and the forest department isn’t simply ready to do it. If half-trained persons do it in a haphazard manner, the results would be unreliable.”

Wildlife activist and scientist Ulhas Karanth, who has done such surveys in the state, agrees the exercise requires huge skilled manpower and equipment. “It can’t be done immediately,” he told The Indian Express.

Gopal, however, hints at flexibility. “We haven’t yet decided on dates. We will fix it up after due discussions,” he said.

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