Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Foresters to catch big cats on camera

Foresters to catch big cats on camera
Times of India by Himanshu Kaushik

After the ongoing leopard census, the forest department plans to count leopards in the Girnar sanctuary in Junagadh and central Gujarat using high-resolution night-vision cameras, as an experiment.

In-charge principal chief conservator of forest H S Singh said that they had proposed camera trap census to the Wildlife institute of India. Around 150-200 odd cameras would be installed in Girnar and central Gujarat which will constantly monitor the movement of the animal for nearly 60 days.

"Once this data is available, the department would analyze it. Leopard is a shy animal. Hence in the count taken through the traditional method, the chances of error are high. Also in the night the sighting is very difficult. Use of cameras will help record these left out animals." He said that camera trap method by capturing the images of the animal, was tried in the tiger census and found to be successful.

Senior forest officials said that it has been revealed that for leopard, the count was much more than estimated through pug marks and direct sighting methods. Hence this camera trap method will bring out the difference in both the counts. This would also form the basis for the calculating the percentage of errors in the traditional and scientific census.

Foresters say the 20 per cent increase in the tiger population can be attributed to the use of cameras for the census. During the tiger census in Sariska and other tiger reserves, this system was used. The results from camera trap method were more accurate, they added.

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