BHUBANESWAR: The State Wildlife Wing has planned to rope in famed conservation zoologist and tiger expert Dr K Ullas Karanth for its own tiger enumeration early next year.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed in this regard by the Wildlife Wing after it is finalised and approved by the State Government. Karanth, who had founded Centre for Wildlife Studies, is currently Director-Asia (Science) of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India.
The first level meeting has already been conducted and two scientists visited the State recently. Chief Wildlife Warden Dr SS Srivastava confirmed that the agreement is being finalised.
The enumeration, scheduled to be held early next year, will be conducted in Satkosia and Similipal tiger reserves. The agreement includes monitoring the tigers and other prey base in these two habitats.
However, the Wildlife Wing wants WCS to help build the capacity of its field staff so that they can take part in the enumeration in other tiger inhabiting areas of the State. For this, it is currently nominating foresters and forest guards from divisions who can be trained.
Karanth was instrumental in introduction of the remote camera trapping technology which was adopted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for tiger enumeration in the country.
However, the tiger enumeration by NTCA-WII has not received Karanth’s endorsement who felt that the double sampling method is flawed and compromises the accuracy of the study. A scientific paper by Oxford University also cast its doubt over the 30 per cent increase in the tiger population across the tiger reserves of the country.
Interestingly, while the tiger population grew elsewhere, the NTCA-WII report was a negative for Odisha as the tiger number in its two reserves was pegged at about 28, registering a decline from the previous estimation. While the State Government did not accept the number and sought details of the enumeration from NTCA, the Wildlife Wing decided to conduct its own study by adopting camera trap technology.
“We have installed camera traps at several places in the tiger reserves by utilising our own resources and we will take scientific help from Karanth to assess the population,” Srivastava said.