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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cameras capture 17 tigers outside Sunderbans reserve area

Krishnendu Mukherjee, TNN | Mar 20, 2012, 07.00AM IST KOLKATA: The first ever camera trap exercise done in the South 24 Parganas forest division has found presence of over 15 tigers. The exercise, done jointly by WWF-India and the state forest department has photo captured 8 individual tigers in the Ramganga range and 9 in the Raidighi range. Sources said tiger presence was found in Dhulibhashani and Chulkathi compartments in Ramganga, while Ajmalmari and Herobhanga compartments in Raidighi range also reported good tiger density. It may be noted that over 462 square kilometres in this part of the mangrove forests will be developed as West Sunderbans Wildlife Sanctuary. According to sources, the entire South 24 Parganas forest division was divided into 4 square kilometres grid to locate tiger pugmarks and scats. "Later, based on pugmarks and scat presence, 20 heat motion sensitive cameras were laid in the Ramganga range covering an area of over 184 square kilometres and 21 trap camera stations were set up in the Raidighi range covering almost 216 square kilometres ," said sources. The exercise for Ramganga was done between January 23 and February 21, while trap cameras were laid and taken out in Raidighi between February 11 and March 12. "While 8 tigers were found in the Ramganga range with a density of 5.24 tigers per 100 square kilometres , Raidighi has recorded presence of 9 tigers till March 12 with a density of over 4 tigers per 100 square kilometres. Total 44 images were captured in Raidighi," said sources, adding that rare leopard cats, jungle cats and fishing cats too were photo captured. The project will also cover Herobhanga under South 24 Parganas forest division and Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary under Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR). The officials of WWF-India are meeting state forest minister Hiten Burman and senior officials in the department today to brief them about the updated figures of the big cats photo captured between March 12 and March 19. Sources said that the presence of the tigers will give a boost to the state's plan of developing another wildlife sanctuary in this part of the forests. "The new sanctuary - West Sunderbans Wildlife Sanctuary - will cover Dhulibhashani 1 to 8 and Chulkathi 1 to 8 compartments . The proposed wildlife sanctuary will have Dhulibhashani 1 to its north, Bay of Bengal to its south and rivers Matla and Thakuran to its east and west respectively," said sources, adding that while 224.26 square kilometres will fall under Dhulibhashani, 238.13 square kilometres will come under Chulkathi. "We will issue fresh boat licence certificates (BLCs) to the fishermen who will venture out for fishing in the area," Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas had said. At present, 3500 licences are given to boat owners in South 24 Parganas forest division and 960 BLCs are issued under Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR). It may be noted that the Centre's tiger estimation exercise - Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey in India - has recently projected the number of tigers within Sunderbans Tiger Reserve between 64 and 90. Times View Adecent tiger density outside the tiger reserve area shows Sunderbans - one of the last surviving natural tiger habitats in the world - still holds the potential to sustain a healthy tiger population. Only, there should be regular monitoring and better management in the reserve, which will not only clear controversies surrounding the real number of big cats in the mangroves, but will also throw light on the behavioural pattern of the tigers and other rare species in the forests.

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