December 15, 2015
The biannual monitoring of predators, to ascertain the population of tigers and other wild animals, has started in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), one of the four tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu.
According to sources, officials from the Forest Department, conducts surveys twice every year during summer (May) and winter (December or January) to ascertain the post and pre-monsoon changes in the Reserve under the guidance of the Wildlife Institute of India, which monitors all the censuses throughout the country.
The 321 sq km reserve, which holds the most population of tigers (around 80), recorded 75 tigers in the previous winter census in 2014, and the summer census earlier in the year, pegged a reasonable number of big cats as well.
The next biggest population is seen in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve with around 40 tigers in the recent censuses and the other two Reserves, including the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve and Kalakkad Mundanathurai Tiger Reserve have recorded around 22 and 8 tigers respectively.
According to an official from MTR, the eight days census between December 15 and 22 will include 150 members, including volunteers from various NGOs, forest colleges and other college students, and field staff from the Reserve. While the first day will be spent on orientation, the volunteers will spend the next seven days in the field.
The official further added that volunteers would be segregated into 36 teams with each team guided by Anti-Poaching Watchers (APW) and Forest Guards.
“The volunteers would be taking a count of predators, including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, wild dogs and other small cats and also prey animals and pachyderms, including, guar, spotted dear, sambar dear, wild boars and elephants,” he said.
He added that the count would be based on direct sightings and indirect sightings including scratch marks, rake marks, pug marks, droppings and pellet counts for ungulates.
“They would also be taking a count of the plantation and weeds in the respective areas,” he added. He further stated that the field staff was well equipped to handle technical items, including GPS and compasses to mark the geographical location of the animal.
“Since the Reserve is a major connection point between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, more animals are recorded here every year and we would submit the data to the National Tiger Council Authority (NTCA),” he added.