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New cameras track elusive animals at 8,000 ft in Neora Valley in Bengal

The state government will conduct a census of the animals spotted in the area.

kolkata Updated: Jan 11, 2018 13:29 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Neora Valley,West Bengal,Kalimpong
Representational picture. For some time experts suspected there are Royal Bengal tigers in Neora Valley but this was the first time the animal was sighted in the area.(HT Photo)

Their existence was not a secret but for the first time the Bengal forest department has recorded the movement of clouded leopard, Himayalan wild dog, large Indian civet and Indian yellow- throated- marten with trap cameras installed between 7,000 and 8,000 feet at Neora Valley in Kalimpong district.

Never before had the state government installed cameras inside forests at such high altitude, said forest minister Benoy Burman. So far 22 cameras have been installed at those heights where a number of Royal Bengal tigers have also been spotted. “Encouraged by the results, we have planned to buy more cameras,” said the minister.

Read: Tiger census in Sundarbans to confirm population by 2019

“For quite some time our experts had been suspecting the existence of these species as well as the Royal Bengal Tiger at Neora Valley National Park which is a protected area. We were unable to draw any conclusion. So, we decided to install cameras. The effort has paid off,” said Burman.

The species spotted by experts generally live at higher altitudes. “We had a feeling that during winter they descend to lower heights. The department installed the cameras at several heights ranging between 7,000 and 8,000 feet just before the arrival of winter this year. The cameras recorded images that confirmed the movement of these animals,” said the forest minister.

The next initiative will be to conduct a census of the animals spotted. “For that we will have to install additional and more sophisticated cameras. We are consulting international experts on this issue,” he added.

Read: Gurgaon: Camera traps spot wildlife in Aravallis

Burman admitted that these sightings might attract more tourists to Neora Valley National Park. However, the forest department will not encourage tourism at higher altitudes where the animals have been spotted.

“We apprehend that encouraging tourism right now will disturb the animals and they may move out of the area. At the same time, poachers may sneak in posing as tourists. We do not want to take any risk. The number of forest guards in the area has been increased,” said Burman.

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 13:29 IST