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Tiger census to go digital in J’khand with mobile app to track big cats

The digitisation of the process is expected to make data analysis faster and error free.

ranchi Updated: Dec 15, 2017 20:14 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Tiger census,Palamu Tiger Reserve,Wildlife Institute of India
The Jharkhand forest department will use Android-based mobile application for the upcoming tiger census in Palamu Tiger Reserve (AP File Photo for representational purpose only )

Ranchi The upcoming tiger census is all set to go hi-tech in Jharkhand with the state’s forest department deciding to use an Android-based mobile application for the count at the Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR).

Earlier, the field data used to be collected manually. The digitisation is expected to make data analysis faster and error free.

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) developed the mobile app-- Monitoring System for Tiger-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status (M-STrIPES).

It will be used for the first time in tiger census.

The department has also tied up with two NGOs, working in the field of wildlife, for the scientific estimation at the PTR, spread over 1129.93 sqkm.

Only three tigers were counted in the reserve during the last census in 2014. However, the WII through DNA sample analyses recently confirmed presence of six tigers in the reserve.

Tiger estimation procedure that began from this December with training of trainers will continue till December 2018 and tiger count on field is likely to take off from March 2018, forest officials said.

PTR field director MP Singh said: “The app will help streamlining collection of field data on tigers and prey. All the data such as scats, pugmarks, prey base and their pictures will be uploaded on the app, which will be connected to a central server.”

He further said state forest officials would be trained in operation of the application during a training session from December 19-21.

This time the census will be more elaborated than the previous ones, as the PTR is procuring 300 additional high sensitive cameras to spot big cats.

In 2014, merely 30 cameras had been used, which was not enough to trap tigers.

“We have planned to cover entire reserve area this time. For this, we will install 600 cameras. We have 300 cameras while remaining 300 cameras will be procured soon,” Singh said.

Tiger estimation is carried out in merely 30-40% of the total reserve area due to Maoists fear.

Palamau reserve is one of the major Maoist affected region. Burha Pahar area of reserve is considered to be a safe haven for the extremists.

Jharkhand police have been struggling to flush out the rebels from the area for last several years.

Presence of Maoists impacted tiger census operations in the past as they do not allow forest officials to put cameras in fear of being captured in cameras.

Since past few months, Jharkhand government has launched an anti-Maoist operation in Palamu’s Burha Pahar to weed out extremists by December end.

“We are engaging Mumbai-based Wildlife Conservation Trust and Delhi-based World Wildlife Fund for the tiger estimation,” Singh said, adding, 500 forest staff will be deputed in the operation.

BLURB

“We have planned to cover entire reserve area this time. For this, we will install 600 cameras. We have 300 cameras while remaining 300 cameras will be procured soon”

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 18:18 IST