WCS/CWS India under the leadership of Dr Ullas Karanth has been developing new monitoring methodologies for tigers and prey species for over two decades working in tandem with Karnataka Forest Department. Now National Tiger Conservation Authority has decided to incorporate some of their key suggestions as a part of the official protocols.
The key suggestions are
Annual monitoring of tiger source populations will be done using capture-recapture. Individual identification of tigers will be done using camera trap data or faecal DNA analysis. These protocols will work in close association with a national tiger photographic data base repository to be developed and maintained at NTCA.
Minimum sampling area will be 400 sq km at a time. Sampling intensity aimed at will be 1,000 trap nights per 100 sq km.
The annual camera trap survey will be completed in 45-60 days.
If deployment of camera traps in an entire reserve – or parts of it – is not feasible for any reason, faecal DNA samples will be collected within 45-60 day survey period and analysed to arrive at tiger numbers.
Protocols have been also laid down for estimating prey densities using line transect surveys and the use of DISTANCE software.
The icing on the cake is that Dr. Rajesh Gopal (Member Secretary — NTCA) and Sri PR Sinha (Director - WII) is working hand in hand with Dr Ullas Karanth in introducing these refinements. Tahrcountry joins other conservationists in applauding this path breaking team work.