As part of the Tiger Monitor Protocol of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), sign survey of carnivores and ungulates, kicked off across the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) on Monday.
The three-day sign survey is being carried across STR, Baripada, Rairangpur and Kanajia divisions of Similipal. Only forest officials and research scholars are participating in the survey which will record signs such as pug marks, scats, sighting of predators and co-predators.
The Similipal authorities have identified 270 points from which the signs will be recorded by forest officials and research scholars. Three different routes have been laid down to be covered on the three days by the survey teams.
The three-day sign survey of carnivores will be followed by another three-day survey of ungulates in the region. For this purpose, the STR has devised new line transects. “The previous transects had certain problems which is why we have laid down new transects using GPS systems. We are hopeful that the refined methods will yield more accurate results,” Field Director of STR Anup Kumar Nayak said.
As per the NTCA protocol, the sign surveys are to be conducted twice every year. In the last survey, the ungulate density was arrived at 3.7 per sq km. This process will be followed by the camera trap methodology. Basing on the sign survey outcome, cameras will be installed across the tiger habitat. The tiger reserve authorities have procured 100 more high resolution cameras for the second phase of installation. Armed with 180 cameras in total, the STR management plans to cover at least 400 sq km under camera trap.
“As we fine-tune the process, more cameras will be used so that more area is under observation and we get a clear picture about the carnivore and their prey base in Similipal,” Nayak added. The camera trap method is expected to start from November-December and will continue for 40 days.
Similipal, in the past, has been in the news over its tiger population which has been under dispute. From a claim of 100 by the State, the NTCA figures have pegged the number in the range of 30 to 45 in the past.