Wednesday, August 4

Foresters go tiger-spotting with 1,200 cameras

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More cameras will scan the Sunderbans as part of the Phase IV exercise — undertaken by the forest department to assess and monitor the tiger population annually.

The exercise, which has already started in the tiger reserve area from Tuesday, will see installation of 600 pairs or 1,200 cameras across the mangroves this time, compared 400 pairs laid in the Sunderbans in 2018 as part of All-India tiger estimation exercise.

Talking to TOI, Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) field director Sudhir Chandra Das said that this will be the first time when cameras will be placed simultaneously across all four ranges of STR. “The exercise has been started from December 10. This will be the first time when cameras will be placed across the entire tiger reserve area in one go,” added Das.

Das said that while the forest department is giving 400 pairs of camera traps, the rest has been given by WWF-India’s Sunderbans chapter.

“The work for placing the cameras in four ranges of the tiger reserve area — Sajnekhali, Basirhat, National Park East and National Park West — will continue till December 16. The cameras will be taken out from the field after a month. After this, the process to analyse the images will start in association with the members of WWF-India’s Sunderbans chapter,” Das added. According to him, the same exercise in the South 24 Parganas forest division will start after that.

The Indian side of the Sunderbans now has 88 tigers, a 16% jump from the 76 recorded in 2014, according to the data released this July by PM Narendra Modi. Taking into account the 114 tigers in the Bangladesh Sunderbans, the entire mangroves is now home to 202 tigers.

A detailed analysis of the 2018 data has revealed that the rise is mainly because of an unprecedented — 340% — jump in the big cat number outside the tiger reserve area. The South 24 Parganas forest division is now home to 22 tigers. The range-wise break-up has also revealed that Sajnekhali, Basirhat, National Park East and West ranges now have 15, 13, 20 and 18 tigers, respectively.

Ratul Saha, landscape coordinator at WWF-India’s Sunderbans chapter, said this time, too, the mangroves will be divided into grids of 2 square kilometres and each grid will have two cameras.

 

Source: Times of India

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