Tiger census in Kaziranga to start in winter

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Guwahati, Oct 3 (UNI) A tiger census in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) will be undertaken this winter.

The census will by conducted by Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), as part of KNP's inclusion in the list of sanctuaries for implementation of the Project Tiger Scheme, KNP director Suren Buragohain said.

Talking to UNI, he said, ''WII officials had visited last winter to inspect where the cameras could be installed and other details befroe undertaking this counting of big cats in the park.'' ''They are expected to start the census work as soon as the weather clears up and other facilities are in place, he added.

The KNP was declared a tiger reserve under the Project Tiger scheme in August last year and the forest officials of the state are looking forward to translating the opportunity into another success story for the KNP. Its massive success in the rhino conservation efforts, with a population of over 2000 at present as per official estimates, has given forest personnel good reasons to anticipate another conservation success story.

Besides Kaziranga, the Manas National Park and the Nameri National Park are already part of the Project Tiger in Assam.

Mr Buragaohain informed that a census about a couple of years back had estimated 85 tigers in the KNP. ''With the new census, we will know the present figure more accurately,'' he added.

With KNP included for the Project Tiger, the total area of the park has also been extended from 430 sq km to more than 1000 sq km.

The KNP director said with the extension of the area, more manpower would also be needed to guard the park. At present, there are about 500 personnel posted in the KNP, which has to be almost doubled to meet the total manpower requirement of this World Heritage Site.

Mr Buragohain said the additional funding that the park would receive from the Centre for the Project Tiger would help in building better infrastructure as well as in other ways.

The KNP stands to gain in all respects with the Project Tiger, he added. While the Centre would provide the main funding, the state government is expected to bear the recurring expenditures.

UNI

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