In a first, tigers spotted at high altitudes in hill states to be counted
A tiger was camera-trapped above 12,000 ft in Uttarakhand’s Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, another was photographed in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuarydehradun Updated: Oct 31, 2017 20:35 IST
For the first time, the All India Tiger Estimation will cover Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh’s high altitude areas where tigers were spotted 10,000 ft above the sea-level.
During a meeting of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in Delhi on Monday, tiger sighting in remote areas of both the hill states was discussed and a decision was taken to frame Special Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to conduct tiger estimation in these areas.
The authority directed officers to prepare the SOP in consultation with pioneer Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an official said.
Tiger presence was reported in Uttarakhand last year in Askot Wildlife Sanctuary where a tiger was camera-trapped above 12,000 ft. Following which tiger was photographed in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and Tehri forest division. Similar incidences were also reported from Arunachal Pradesh.
VB Mathur, director WII told Hindustan Times, “Tigers are generally found at an altitude of 4000 ft-6000 ft in India. But, since the last estimation was done (2014) both states have reported the presence of tigers in high altitude areas. Certainly, these areas should be covered during the estimation.”
One key challenge before the officers would be the snow clad ranges. In such circumstances, it won’t be possible to follow NTCA protocols.
“Special SOP for both states would be prepared as the areas are remote and remains covered with snow at least 6 months,” said Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife Uttarakhand.
In Uttarakhand, the officers are planning to conduct the estimation in identified areas from May when the snow will start melting. Camera traps would be potentially used to cover the habitat.
The last estimation of 2014 reported 2226 tigers in the country accounting for 70% of big cats in the wild in the world and the only tiger range country to have acclaimed robust methodology.
Uttarakhand accounts for 340 tigers during the last estimation, second highest in the country after Karnataka. Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) has the highest number of tigers 215.