If a plan prepared by the Rajasthan forest department for tigers’ satellite monitoring finds acceptance, collars for the big cats will be a thing of the past. The department has prepared a project for satellite monitoring of tigers with the help of camera traps to be installed in different parts of the reserves.
This will preclude the necessity of tying heavy radio collars around the necks of the big cats.
The R4.62 crore project, initially meant for the Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, has been sent to the Union Environment and Forest Mnistry for sanction.
Wildlife experts have often raised objections to the use of radio collars on the grounds that the devices supposedly irritated the tigers and led to hormonal changes in them.
“The satellite monitoring system will function through camera traps. As soon as a tiger passes in front of a camera, it will click a picture and send signals via satellites to the control room. The authorities will match the data and stripe patterns of the tiger, and it will be easier to track the animal,” said Rajasthan principal chief conservator of forest RN Mehrotra.
The project draft was discussed with union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh, who asked for the full report.
Some wildlife conservationists blame radio collars even for tigers not breeding in Sariska. The vice-president of the NGO Sariska Tiger Foundation, Sunayan Sharma, said the radio collars might be affecting breeding among tigers. “These devices also lead to hormonal changes among big cats,” Sharma said.
However, Madhya Pradesh chief wildlife warden HS Pabla allayed such apprehensions and said two radio-collared tigresses at the Panna tiger reserve had littered.
In November last year, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) had advocated use of a separate computerised system using the global positioning system with assistance from Google Earth.