DINDIGUL: A wildlife census held for the last one week revealed on Wednesday that no tigers exist in the Dindigul forest range. However, there were enough leopards in the region.
The All India Tiger estimation, which is held from July 14-20 once in four years, was conducted by members and volunteers from the Anamalai tiger reserve in Coimbatore along with Dindigul forest range officials.
Over 50 volunteers from Bishop Heber College, St. Joseph College, Tiruchy and Gandhigram Rural Institute took part in the survey. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Dindigul Forest Officer S Prabhu said a training programme was conducted on Thursday regarding how to conduct surveys.
Following this, Surveys for carnivores and herbivores were done for the subsequent days, along with taking stock of the vegetation (number of trees, grass, weeds etc). "Dindigul forest area is divided into seven ranges namely Dindigul range, Ayalur, Alagarkoil, Natham, Sirumalai, Dindigul and Ottanchathiram. It is further separated into 54 beats," he said.
Anamalai Tiger Reserve Biologist J Peter Prem Chakaravarthi said apart from Dindigul, Theni and Kodaikanal forest ranges may have presence of tigers.
"Volunteers and forest officials used a special ‘Ecological’ app with GPS facility. On the first three days, volunteers along with forest officials went to all the 54 beats, trying to spot the animal, their excreta, sounds and other signs. We were able to find the signs of leopards, foxes, wild dogs, slender loris among others. We will compile the full data based on the volunteers report on Friday," he said.
Talking about the methodology, S Sivakumar, who is the Forest Range Officer of Social Forest Division in Ottanchathiram, said the survey of flora and fauna was done by drawing a straight line of 2,000 metres in each beat, in order to find out the forest ecosystem. "We identified signs of elephants and bisons," he added.
Tiger census begins in Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal Wildlife sanctuary started its animal counting on Monday. A total of 238 cameras have been fixed in tiger bearing areas like Poombarai, Mannavanur and Perijam. It will continue for another 25 days.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Kodaikanal District Forest Officer and Wildlife Warden PK Dileep said cameras will be fixed in 135 grids, each covering a distance of 2 km. "We will be able to find if tigers and leopards can be spotted here and a comparative study based on the previous survey cycle would be prepared," he said.