BENGALURU: Following an advisory by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the Forest Department has decided to radio-collar captured carnivores and elephants on its own.
Till now, the authorities were dependent on external agencies for radio-collaring and tracking of animals in conflict zones of the state.
In the wake of the Belagavi incident where the radio collar on a man-eater malfunctioned, NTCA (Southern Region) has advised the forest departments of Karnataka and other southern states to radio-collar animals themselves. Forest officials too feel it is better that their own trained staff radio-collar and track the animals.
Vinay Luthra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Wildlife, told Express, “We will radio-collar big carnivores ourselves and not leave it to NGOs. We will train our own staff and send selected biologists and veterinarians to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for training. Apart from this, the ICT (Information Communication Technology) wing of the Forest Department will be involved in tracking animals. In the case of elephants, we have taken some steps.”
Karnataka is one of the few states that is in the process of implementing the NTCA advisory. “We will procure GPS collars, which cost Rs.3 lakh per piece. We will be assisted by NTCA in this.
We were completely dependent on wildlife experts and the arrangement was not working to our satisfaction,” he added.
Director of Wildlife Conservation Society Dr K Ullas Karanth, who has radio-collared four tigers and three leopards at Nagarhole for research, said, “This (collaring/tracking) is all basic stuff, but it must be learned. I am sure they (forest personnel) will eventually gain the necessary expertise even if they do not have it now. Nothing wrong with that.”
He said the radio transmitter must be tested (in case of VHF, by triangulating its location) before it is put on the animal. GPS collars must be similarly tested beforehand by downloading locations.
“The key is to plot the radio locations on a map in real time every hour at least by triangulation or even homing in on the animal. The azimuth bearings and locations must be available in tabular form and plotted on a map on at least a 1:50,000 scale as a permanent record.”
New Advisory to forest officials
P S Somashekar, Inspector-General (Southern Region), National Tiger Conservation Authority, said, “A proposal for purchase of collars under the Tiger Conservation Fund has to be submitted to NTCA. Depending on the state’s needs and availability of funds, we will sanction it under the Annual Plan of Operations of tiger reserves. Since animals released in new areas need constant and intense monitoring, radio tracking is a must for the safety of the animal and humans. So we feel that states can deal with this issue on their own, but with technical guidance from WII.”
2 Tiger Cubs Die of Starvation in Metikuppe
Mysuru: Two tiger cubs, a male and a female, aged between eight and 10 months, have been found dead at Dattadalu in Metikuppe range of Nagarhole forest range. Starvation is suspected to be the reason for the deaths.
A third cub was rescued and taken to the Mysore zoo. According to Forest Department sources, forest staff heard the cries of animals during their night rounds on Wednesday. They spotted three cubs, of which one had already died. On finding the other cub in a serious condition, forest personnel contacted veterinarian Dr Umashankar. But the cub died before he reached the spot.
The officials waited for some time expecting the mother tiger to return. When she did not, they took the third cub to the Mysore zoo. The cub is said to be healthy. The post-mortem report of the dead cubs indicates that they had not eaten for the last four days after they were apparently deserted by their mother.