Tigers thrive in Kerala forests, 175 people captured on digicam traps in in depth survey

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Carried out over the course of a yr in 2017-18, the All Kerala Tiger Monitoring Programme recognized a complete of 176 people, 75 of them inside the confines of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) alone, based mostly on camera-trap photos.

Kerala’s forest cowl could also be extraordinarily fragmented and vulnerable to recurrent human-animal battle, but it surely continues to be dwelling to a thriving tiger inhabitants, an intensive examine by the state’s forest division exhibits.

Carried out over the course of a yr in 2017-18, the All Kerala Tiger Monitoring Programme recognized a complete of 176 people, 75 of them inside the confines of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) alone, based mostly on camera-trap photos. In truth, the WWS, half of a big forest complicated within the Western Ghats, might maintain the only largest inhabitants of the large cat within the nation and even perhaps on this planet. The Periyar and Parambikulam Tiger Reserves recorded 25 people every.

At a time when tigers in India are confronted with stark challenges with respect to habitat loss and poaching, these numbers from the forest division examine are affirmative. Whereas the examine was performed in all forest divisions, together with areas outdoors of tiger reserves, not all places in these divisions might be coated, as a result of a wide range of causes. For instance, the forest divisions north and south of Nilambur in Malappuram district are thought of to help a superb inhabitants of untamed cats, however owing to Maoist threats, digicam traps couldn’t be put in in these divisions. An summary report of the examine mentioned if digicam traps had been to be deployed systematically in all forest divisions with out gaps, the tiger inhabitants would have crossed 200 within the state.

“The objective of the study was to find out if tigers are present in all the forested regions of Kerala, and if so, what’s the approximate numbers and how healthy the forest ecosystem is. It also indicates what course of action we need to undertake to protect this ecosystem,” mentioned BN Anjan Kumar, chief conservator of forests (wildlife), who headed the group, mentioned.

“From this study, we can point to certain landscapes in Kerala where tiger presence has been confirmed. Since the tiger is an apex predator, it will indicate the health of the ecosystem such as the presence of a proper food chain. This helps us divert our resources and manpower to prioritize the tiger-dominated landscapes and protect the cats,” he added.

It took Kumar’s group of round 500 forest officers almost a yr to arrange 1640 digicam entice stations protecting round 9400 sq. kilometers of forest space in Kerala and an extra six months to type the photographs. The digicam traps had been set for a month. Places had been ascertained by totally checking trek routes, forest roads and animal corridors for indicators reminiscent of pugmarks, scrapes, scratches, kills and sounds. When tigers go in entrance of the cameras, the sensors detect movement and the cameras are triggered to take images. The cameras had been additionally designed to seize presence of co-predators and prey species reminiscent of Gaur, Sambar, wild canine, leopards, mongoose, sloth bear, porcupine and pangolin. Forest guards and watchers needed to type by way of almost two million pictures captured by the cameras. People had been marked and recognized with the assistance of their stripes and coat color.

Of the 1640 digicam entice stations, tigers had been captured in 369 stations (22.5%), out of which multiple particular person was captured in 156 stations. If WWS shone by way of for it’s potential of internet hosting a giant cat inhabitants, not a single tiger was recorded in forest areas underneath the Idukki wildlife sanctuary. Leopards had been captured on 70% of the digicam entice stations throughout Kerala, together with in areas adjoining city areas.

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