BENGALURU: The tiger census this time could well be different. Elephants may also be counted alongside and the exercise will be more scientific. The Ministry of Environment and Forests is also thinking of genetic analysis in order to create a database which may help in solving poaching and other wildlife-related cases.
This was discussed at a meeting of officials from tiger reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, heads of forest departments from all states, officials of the ministry and from theWildlife Institute of India, earlier this month. They also deliberated on how the tiger census, scheduled to be held post monsoon, should be undertaken in the wake of the Covid-19 situation.
“It was a preliminary meeting and nothing has been finalised as of now. Discussions were held on genetic and DNA analysis of elephants and tigers. It was discussed how to take it up on an experimental basis in some areas, as against the census, which covers the entire terrains. Nothing has concretised so far. It was just a thought process,” a senior official from the Karnataka Forest Department told The New Indian Express.
In the case of tigers, identification is easier because of each one’s unique stripe pattern. But that is not the case with elephants and hence, genome sequencing is being discussed. “Though doing multiple things at the same time will be a tedious task, it has its pros and cons. There could be jumbling of data. There should be adequate staff and proper technical support. If it is done together, then time, manpower and resources are saved. A final call is yet to be taken, but discussions have started and experts are also being consulted,” the official said.
Experts are, however, questioning the need for genetic analysis and DNA mapping. They are also questioning how data collection will be done as scats and dungs are not good options. Some questions need to be answered and genome sequencing for all the animals cannot be done, they feel. Through these studies, what the government trying is to get at also needs to be ascertained clearly, they added.