Kaziranga National Park (KNP) of Assam has achieved unique distinction in tiger conservation front as it was found to have highest tiger density on Earth. Project Tiger was launched in the KNP in 2007.
A joint study on monitoring tigers and prey animals in KNP was carried out by Assam Forest Department and Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation in Northeast India. The report, officially released by Assam Environment and Forest minister , Rockybul Hussain at State Zoo here on Thursday.
The report said that Kaziranga National Park has the highest density of tigers in the world. “It reveals that Kaziranga National Park has the highest density of tigers compared to any known tiger habitats anywhere in the world,” said the Minister.
According to the study, which was conducted using the ‘camera trap’ method of tiger estimation and covered an area of 144 sq km of the central and western part of the park, there are 32 tigers per 100 sq km of park area. It also revealed that 39 individual tigers, including a one-year-old cub, were photographed in the study area during the 50 day photo-trapping exercise.
“We believe that this study has rekindled the hope for the protection of the tiger which is fast disappearing from its range states throughout the world. It has also thrown up an opportunity to carry out an extensive tiger monitoring study covering the entire area of Kaziranga National Park”, added Hussain.
The first phase of tiger census in the KNP was completed and second phase is on. In 2002 tiger census in the park, 86 adult tigers were found.
Assam PCCF (Principal Chief Conservator of Forest), Suresh Chand said that the previously highest recorded density of tiger in a wildlife park was 19.6 tigers /100 sq km recorded in the Corbett Tiger Reserve in northern India. The usual density of tiger varies from 3-12 tigers/100 sq km in different tiger reserves throughout India.
“Tigers’ density in the Kaziranga National Park is amazing. Efforts will continue to increase tigers’ population in Assam”, said the PCCF of Assam.
Aaranyak’s biologist Firoz Ahmed who led the team in the field said that all tigers are unlikely to be photo-trapped in the study area and using scientific method called capture recapture, as many as 47 of tigers were estimated in the study area (144 km sq). The cubs below one year of age were eliminated in density analysis.
The latest study confirms the belief that Kaziranga’s alluvial grassland provides optimal habitats for tigers. Earlier, Karanth and Nichols (1998) had indicated that tigers attained their highest possible density in Kaziranga. Ahmed informed that the present study, however, recorded almost twice the density of tigers in the park compared to the last estimation made by Karanth and Nichols.
“One of the key reasons for the high tiger density in Kaziranga is an abundance of prey animals including hog deer, sambar, swamp deer and wild buffalo”, said Ahmed.
What is a Camera Trap?
A camera trap is an automated camera used to capture photographs of wild animals. A camera trap is installed in a site that a rarely-seen animal is expected to visit. When a motion or infrared sensor detects the presence of an animal, a photo is taken. After a period of time, a researcher will typically return to the camera to collect the photographs.
Camera traps are an important tool used in researching rare, shy, or nocturnal animals. They generally do not disturb wildlife.
Sometimes, cameras can be damaged by the animals themselves. People in the area may also damage, destroy or remove them, e.g. those who are caught hunting protected species on camera.