Bangalore: Trailing tigers people join census

BANGALORE: This Friday begins the search for the big cats in Karnataka. The census of tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitats will be carried out in all forest areas across the state from January 22 to 27. However, this year the census will be different with very high interface between general public or enthusiasts and the forest department. Two to three enthusiasts will accompany forest guards in each of their trails.

They would not just sight the wild animals like sambars and elephants but may even get a glimpse of the tiger, for which people wait for a lifetime.

There are 2,819 beats (tracks which are monitored by forest watchers) in Karnataka. There is already huge excitement among the enthusiasts who have flooded the forest department office with application forms.

The demand for applications, according to additional principal chief conservator of forests B K Singh, is very high for Nagarahole, Bandipur, Bhadra and Biligiriranga Swamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary.

“I am going to Bhadra for the census. I am keen to go because I wanted to experience the forests, more than just a tourist experience. I am realistic enough to understand that I might not sight a tiger. But in my small way I want to contribute something to wildlife,” said a software engineer Vijay Singh who is also a member of the wildlife enthusiasts group, Vanya.

On January 22, 23 and 24, the Carnivore Sign Encounter Rate will be surveyed. It is to quantify the abundance of tigers, leopards, sloth bears and other carnivores. The signs to look out for will be pugmark trails, scats, scrapes, rake marks on trunks, vocalization and actual sighting. It is the most important survey, so two volunteers have been allotted with one forest guard.

On January 25, 26, 27, the sampling for ungulate (animals with hooves) encounter rates will be done along a transect line. A record would be made of all herbivores seen during this process, the time of sighting, the species (sambar, chital, wild pig others), the size of the herd and the forest or terrain type. On all three days, the volunteers on their way back, will document the pellets of these ungulates.

They will also do a vegetation and a grass survey because the space occupied by the grass is directly proportionate to the presence of ungulates or prey species.

“We have tried to make the system more transparent this year, and there has been overwhelming response from enthusiasts and youngsters. Though we got too many applications, we tried not to decline anyone’s application,” added Singh.

* After the surveys are completed, results will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India whose officials will then inspect and verify data again

* Census results will be out after four to five months

* Volunteers don’t have to be wildlife experts. They should be able to write and count

From TOI

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