BENGALURU: Breaking away from its fixed schedules, the tiger census this year will be carried out on different dates across all reserves in the country. The decision was taken in view of the pandemic, paucity of time, and the availability of camera traps.
The Ministry of Environment of forests and climate change (MoEFCC), National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), and Wildlife Insitute of India (WII) have declared that the census should be completed by December to release the final report on July 29, 2022.
"The trainers and staffers at some places have completed their training and for others, it is underway. By the time the winters set in, the camera trapping has to be completed. The states can draw their calendar as per their convenience, festivities, pandemic and the staff strength," said Qamar Qureshi, a scientist at WII.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, wildlife, Vijay Kumar Gogi said camera trap is a continuous process. While some reserves and sanctuaries are fully equipped and have sufficient camera traps like Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves, some others have a shortage. So the cameras will be shared on rotation from October 1 to December 31. A calendar for each sanctuary, tiger-prone wildlife area, and reserve is being drawn, he added.
Also, the NTCA, this time is not particular of the sequence to be followed. They are not particular that line transect is done first and then camera traps. "It can either be done parallelly or altered accordingly. Since more emphasis is being given to technological details and stripe patterns, this time the chronology change will have little impact," added a senior NTCA official.
To ensure that the census is unhindered, the department is also thinking of restricting safaris during the durations when the line transect and field surveys are being done.
A senior official from Karnataka said, due to the shortage of cameras, it is also being discussed if 2-3 circles in each reserve can be clubbed with the sanctuaries or tiger habitats in the vicinity to make the exercise faster and easier. "Since no volunteers will be called for this year, there are no restrictions on timings and walking path distances to be managed. With the help of experts the estimation exercise will be done faster," the official added.