BHUBANESWAR: Almost a year after the big cat census by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) raised the hackles of Odisha Government, the latter is all set to conduct its own enumeration starting Friday in its bid to prove a point.
The six-day census operation will be carried across all forest areas - both in wildlife and territorial divisions where tigers occurred, and not just in the tiger reserves (TRs).
The Wildlife Wing has asked the divisional officers to employ pressure impression pads, signs, direct as well as indirect sighting methods to collect evidence of tiger. Camera traps will be used by Baripada and Angul Circles where the two designated TRs, Similipal and Satkosia, are located.
The tiger enumeration is seen as a riposte to the NTCA which had pegged the estimated tiger population in the State at 28 last year which, compared to the 2010 enumeration of 32, had registered a slip.
The State Wildlife Wing did not take the outcome of the census too kindly. Not only did it find fault with census method taking objection to the sampling methodology, it decided to conduct its own survey to challenge the NTCA figure.
During the whole of last year, the Wildlife Wing held consultations and decided that the census would cover the entire forest area of the State as newer habitats where tiger signs had been found in recent years were eclipsed in the NTCA survey.
However, the focus of the census would be on Similipal and Satkosia tiger reserves where intensive enumeration will be conducted. Apart from collection of tiger evidence through direct and indirect sighting, the TRs have made elaborate arrangements for capturing the big cats through camera traps and PIPs.
According to Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF), Baripada HS Bisht, as many as 200 pairs of cameratraps have been installed in both core division of Similipal as well as outside of it for the census. About 80 per cent of the cameras will be concentrated in the core areas. “The cameras have been placed strategically in locations where signs and frequency of tigers are found,” he said.
Besides, a whopping 12,000 PIPs will be laid out across 225 census units (beats) of the circle that includes Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts.
Similarly, Angul Circle which comprises seven divisions has been divided into 388 census units. RCCF Anup Nayak said for the enumeration, as many as 1,511 PIPs will be laid out while 219 pairs of cameratraps have been installed to capture picture of the cats.
“We’ve installed camera traps at Athagarh, Dhenkanal and Athmallick divisions which are outside Satkosia but where tiger signs were recorded recently,” Nayak said. In the TR region of Satkosia, as many as 155 cameras and 770 PIPs have been placed.