Baripada, Nov 6 (UNI) Once again the headcount of the Royal Bengal Tiger (RBT) in the Simlipal Tiger Reserve(STR) has been dogged by controversies with the its officials finding out some lacuna in the 60-day long camera trap exercises.
STR sources said the camera trap protocol devised by the Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India(WII) needed to be checked on a daily basis to prevent malfunctioning.
The field verification by the field staff of the STR revealed that the cameras were found to be not working due to some reason or the other, thus nullifying the chances of any tiger capture, the sources pointed out.
The STR officials further claimed that all the four researchers of the WII deployed for the camera trap exercises were found absent from the field for 18 days due to cerebral malaria and for other personal reasons.
This also reduced the actual effective trap days to 45.
STR Field Director Debabrata Swain said among the 12 beats selected by the researchers, only Bhanjabasa belonged to the high density category while all the others belonged to the medium density type.
The final results showed that there was not a single tiger capture in the camera traps in Bhanjabasa whereas the field staffs on duty regularly reported direct sightings of the Big Cat and collected other evidences of the presence of tiger in the area, Mr Swain added.
The STR sources said most of the cameras were installed on the main forest roads, the animal trails and footpaths. In any census methodology based on sound statistical principles require replication of sampling sites or sessions.
The WII researchers selected 30 locations spread over 120 sqkms in Upper Barhakamuda Range of the STR encompassing a total area of 2,750 sqkms of forests.
Nearly 60 cameras at the rate of two per location were deployed and actual trapping exercise started on March 26 which ended on May 20.
As per the analysis of the camera trap exercises, Simlipal holds only 30 RBT and not 101 as indicated by the Pugmark based census in 2004.