BENGALURU: With Karnataka having the highest number of tigers (406) in India (2,226), it is an exciting time to know how effective the efforts to protect their habitat in five tiger reserves and reserve forests in the state has been. The All India Tiger Estimation for the Year 2018 (AITE-2018) has started in Karnataka with training programmes, field preparation and mock drills. However, the actual survey of the big carnivores begins from January 8-13.
According to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) (Wildlife), Punati Sridhar, the tiger estimation exercise will be done both in tiger reserves and territorial divisions. The PCCF (Wildlife) told Express, “Our expectations are high. Compared to the last time, there has been a significant increase in the tiger populations as we had carried out studies in some tiger reserves. As it is, in Bandipur-Nagarhole, the tiger density is high while the prey density too is good. We hope to top the country once again with our effective strategies and protection measures.”
This year, it has been decided to place cameras beyond the boundaries of the tiger reserves. The assessment of the habitat quality and carnivore and mega herbivore (elephant and Gaur) survey across the landscape, wherever notified forests are present, will be done in the first phase.
The estimation methods are pretty same with direct and indirect sightings, camera trap pictures and line transect sign-ages. However, an important feature of the AITE-2018 is the use of GOI mobile app ‘ECOLOGICAL’ and for this, a simple android app will help in carrying out the survey with minimum errors. The survey is being done in four phases and it is an eight-day module exercise.
On day 1 and 2, preparation of 2 km transact per beat will be done, while from days 3-5, carnivore sign survey in the entire beat, and this will involve at least 5 km walk every day. Day 6-8 will comprise major studies on ungulate abundance, vegetation and human disturbance levels in various sized plots along the same line of transect. All the data from these three studies will be submitted in both tiger reserves and territorial divisions by January 20 and February 3, respectively.