Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tiger found dead in Melghat reserve

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 18, 2012, 06.15AM IST NAGPUR: At a time when Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) has come out of the red with improved tiger sightings due to better protection, death of a tiger has come as a big blow to the reserve. With this, the death toll of tigers in Maharashtra in the past five months (since November 3, 2011) has mounted to eight. Maharashtra lost 7 tigers - 5 in Chandrapur district and 2 in Tipeshwar - in the past. A full-grown tiger was found dead 100 metres away from a water hole in Chourakund forest range in Sipna wildlife division of MTR on Monday, around 9pm by the patrolling staff. The last report of a tiger death in Melghat was seven years ago, officials said. "The foul smell led the staff to the putrefied carcass of the tiger. Over 40% body parts including claws and teeth were intact indicating there was no element of poaching," said AK Mishra, chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director of Melghat. "The carcass is 8 to 10 days old and seems to have been eaten by small carnivores," he added. Mishra said that the tiger seems to have died due to old age as its canines showed wear and tear. He also ruled out poisoning as cause of death. "There is regular monitoring of water holes by the field staff and they were already on the job when they traced the tiger," he said. However, the post-mortem report will only reveal the exact cause of death. The park authorities were not sure whether to go for DNA testing to know whether the dead tiger was a male or female. The panchnama and post-mortem was performed in the presence of Sipna deputy conservator of forests, S Yuvraj and Amravati honorary district wildlife warden, Vishal Bansod who was present as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) representative. Death of a tiger * Sipna tiger died due to old age, canines showed wear and tear * Carcass is 8-10 days old * 7 years ago last tiger death was reported in Melghat * State has lost eight tigers in last five months

Intensive hunt on to trap tiger

TNN | Apr 18, 2012, 03.51AM IST LUCKNOW: It was another day gone in vain at Rahmankhera. The big cat made its appearance in the area by way of its pugmarks only. The tracking team, however, kept waiting for the big cat near a partially-eaten bait, on Tuesday. The team had to intensively search for the tiger as in the morning there was no trace of the feline, giving the apprehension that it could have changed location, specially after the Monday incident. Sources said on Monday the tiger and the combing elephants came face to face. The tracking team had set a half-eaten carcass as bait near the deep pit which has been dug by the team at Rahmankhera to trap the tiger. The tiger had dragged the flesh to the patch of forest and was eating it when one of the elephants combing the area went close it. And as the tiger resisted the forward movement of the elephant, even the jumbo got aggressive. The other two elephants, which were also combing the area, too became aggressive. Seeing the three elephants ganging up against it, the tiger made a quick escape. It wasn't spotted till late Tuesday morning. It was only later in the day that the team could locate its pugmarks. While the tracking team is still focusing on luring the tiger to the bait tied close to the deep pit, this time around the team has also done some fencing around the pit. Experts, however, said the Monday incident shows the big cat can charge if put under pressure. "The tiger is a tiger and the operation has to be handled keeping the fact in time," said Kaushlendra Singh, a wildlife enthusiast.

Tiger monitoring to get more intensive

The Hindu Camera traps, line transects and scat DNA will be used for a more reliable population estimate. File photo: M.A. Sriram The monitoring of tiger numbers, densities and their prey is about to get more rigorous in the 17 States that form the big cat's habitat. Phase IV of the tiger estimation programme embarked on by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will use a combination of tools — camera traps, line transects and scat DNA — to arrive at a more reliable estimate of tiger population in each reserve. This phase of monitoring has begun in Karnataka and Assam. The protocol calls for a greater intensity of monitoring, over a larger area in a shorter period, and will offer a complete handle on at least 90 per cent of the source (breeding) population of tigers every year, said Ullas Karanth, Director, Wildlife Conservation Society (India Program). “It will also for the first time trace individual tigers over time and help arrive at the animal's survival rate.” EVERY 4 TO 5 SQ KM A pair of camera traps will be installed every 4 to 5 sq km of the tiger landscape for a timeframe not longer than 40 to 60 days to avoid over-estimation of numbers. A digital camera trap tiger photo database will be prepared for the reserve with location ID, date and time stamps. While an emphasis has been given to camera traps to arrive the tiger population size, line transects will be used to estimate prey densities. And where camera trapping is not possible, scat DNA samples will be collected over the entire tiger reserve to estimate the minimum tiger numbers in reserves. SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION “Each patrolling team will be equipped with a GPS unit and a digital camera besides the regular equipment (e.g. firearms, wireless, torch, etc),” says the NTCA protocol. COLLABORATION “The new protocols will enable State Forest Departments to formally collaborate with qualified scientists, and enable them to move up a ladder of technical progress, from estimating minimum number of tigers to robust estimates of population density, change in numbers over time, survival and other crucial parameters,” said Prof. Karanth.