Tiger tracking

Published: Friday 15 August 1997

A new tiger count method is on prominent wildlife scientist, Ulhas Karanth, recently called for a new tiger count system. Karanth's suggestions include a range of new and simpler techniques of counting tigers which he said could prove to be better than the pugmark method that was being commonly used by the government.

Techniques like the 'camera trap', mortality documentation, prey carcass count and scientific tracking can give better tiger count and other data about the tiger in a given set of con-ditions. This is more useful than the traditional methods, said Karanth, who is an associate research ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society of New York.

Karanth emphasised that the camera trap method, in which powerful auto-flash cameras are used as a "capture-recapture tool", can be of more use in counting tigers in protected areas.This is because the data on the tigers appearing and reappearing in the camera leads to a more authentic estimation of their population and density within a demarcated area.

According to Karanth, a careful analysis of the high mortality docu-mentation of tigers and counting the number of tigresses can also provide a fair idea of the number of the animal.

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