Apoorva Joshi

PhD student - Information and Media; Environmental Science and Policy @Michigan State University

Independent journalist -

Environment, Science, International

Tiger News - census methods and more


Superior techniques needed for accurate tiger census, says forest official

Thursday, February 18, 2010,10:57 [IST]

Garo Hills (Meghalaya), Feb 18 (ANI): With unofficial estimates of the tiger population in India being as low as 1,100-1,200, forest officials in Meghalaya have called for the availability of advanced techniques for more accurate census-taking.
Forest Officer S. Kumar has said that the forest department has asked the Wildlife Institute of India to use advanced census-taking techniques to find the exact number of tigers in the state.

"They had written also from the Central Government side to the Wildlife Institute of India; (they) were supposed to become the experts to carry out this chart method and other advanced techniques of taking census of tigers to at least do the
survey in Meghalaya," Kumar added.

Project Tiger currently active in Meghalaya has said that there are only 47 tigers left in the state according to the census of 2002. This could well mean that the actual number of tigers left in the state in 2010 is significantly lower but officials are unsure on that head.

"We are still, you can say, gaping in the dark regarding the accuracy of the possible tiger population in the state, although we are confident, there are evidences science seen in the several corners of the state about the presence of tigers," said Kumar.

Tiger census of different states has shown an alarmingly sharp decrease in numbers, after which environmentalists and government organisations are under a lot of pressure.

Since January, the environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India, has spearheaded a public awareness campaign, led by the
Indiancricket and football captains, which has received close to 100,000 pledges of support on its website.
Poaching and loss of habitat have caused tiger numbers to plunge from around 40,000 at the turn of the 20th century in India.


Tigers not burning bright in India

New Delhi: How many tigers are actually left in India? If an advertisement featuring sport personalities like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Baichung Bhutia is to be believed, India has 1,411 big cats. But the authorities in Delhi say the figure is exaggerated.

At a time when scientific data is increasingly found to be faulty, especially after the fiasco surrounding the vanishing of Himalayan glaciers, it seems the case is no different for tigers.

A day after Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh admitted that India may not have 1,411 tigers, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which had carried out a survey, said that it too did not know how the authorities in Delhi reached the figure.

Ramesh had said on Tuesday that the figure of 1,411 was exaggerated. “We never gave the figure of 1,411 to anyone. We had only given an estimation of 1,100-1,600 after the survey. We don’t know how the ministry arrived at that figure. It is not part of our research. If the ministry wants to reject its figures on tiger population, that is not our problem. If someone in the ministry finds a midpoint of the estimates, we can’t do anything about it,” YV Jhala, faculty member of WII, who was part of the tiger census in India, said.

“It is glamourous to quote a figure while speaking in front of a gathering in Delhi, but the fact is that it is impossible to find out the tiger population in India. A tiger census doesn’t happen like that. We can only give estimates and not specific numbers,” Jhala added.

The confusion surrounding tiger numbers deepened after World Wildlife Fund (WWF) used the figure of 1,411 given by the national tiger conservation authority (NTCA) in an advertisement to boost public awareness on the diminishing number of tigers in India. The campaign, featuring Indian cricket team skipper Dhoni, is on air and is being promoted by a telecom company.

“The minister was only trying to say that tiger numbers have gone down since the last census. The figure of 1,411 is an average and it was calculated in 2006. It has been four years since then and now a fresh census is under way,” said Belinda Wright, an expert on tigers.

Since the last census figures came out in 2006, over 127 tigers have died in India. The worst was 2009, when 66 tigers died and the start of 2010 was also not good, with six deaths reported so far.

Gyan Varma / DNA Thursday, February 18, 2010 1:40 IST

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