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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

A national depository of tiger pictures mooted

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 02, 2012
First Published: 20:13 IST(2/5/2012) | Last Updated: 20:15 IST(2/5/2012)

There will soon be a national depository of tiger pictures in the wild for better protection of the big cat.

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The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided to set up the database of the pictures taken through camera trap methodology.  Under this methodology, cameras automatically take picture of animals whenever they come in their focus area.

The authority already has pictures of 650 tigers taken during tiger estimation in 2010and expects so get hundreds of more pictures from NGOs such as Bangalore based Centre for Wildlife Studies and Assam based Aaranyak.

Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Wednesday released Aaranyak’s compilation of around 115 tiger pictures taken in Kaziranga Tiger Reserve in Assam. She also released a book Wildlife Management written by NTCA director Rajesh Gopal.

Gopal later told HT that the depository will help forest officials in tracking the tigers on yearly basis and monitor movement of big cats from one tiger reserve to another. “It will an aid for tiger protection,” he said.

Photographic database of tigers can be reliable as individual tigers can be identified on basis of stripes. Like finger-prints of human beings are not same, stripes are also unique to a big cat.

The NTCA has called a meeting of field directors of 41 tiger reserves in India to discuss new initiatives including the depository. Among the issues listed for discussion is creation of Special Tiger Protection Force. Of the 13 tiger states, only Karnataka has set up the specialized force to protect tigers.

“We will persuade all the states to raise, arm and deploy the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF),” Natarajan said, while raising the important issue of tiger protection.

India has more than 50 % of world’s tiger population spread across 13 countries but still poaching in different parts of the country is rampant. Of the 30 tiger deaths reported in 2012, 17 are said to be cases of poaching.

The NTCA has tried use of satellite based technology called eyeball to provide around the clock protection to tigers. Corbett tiger reserve in Uttarakhand has employed the technology to monitor some of its tigers.

SETBACK TO TIGERS

In a big setback to declare Sathyamangalam forests, once abode of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, around 1.5 lakh villagers living there have objected to the Central government’s bid to declare the forest as a tiger reserve. The forest was declared a sanctuary after Veerappan was killed in a police encounter.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday, the villagers described the bid to clear the forest as tiger reserve as in violation of the laws and denial of the right of people to life and livelihood. They demanded withdrawal of the state government’s recommendation to declare the forest as a Tiger Reserve.

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