States question central tiger census figures

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (UNI) A day after the latest Tigher Census reported that the number of the endangerd animal had gone down by half since the last census in 2001, several states today questioned the figures arrived at by the Wildlife Institute Of India (WII).

Some senior forest and wildlife officials of the states attending a two-day conference called by the Environment Ministry told UNI that they had strong reservations about the methods adopted for the new Census.

M C Maakar, Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam said in the new methodology sighting of the tiger was not necessary, and the estimation was based on certain parametres.

''The old method was based on pug marks, in which there was also chances of mistake, but in the new method which mostly relied on camera trapping, the possibility of miscalculation was greater,'' he said.

He said he had strong doubts about the figure of 70 tigers for his state as given in the latest census as it was a very steep fall from 264 reported in 2001.

The Chief Wildlife warden of Bihar B N Jha also questioned the methods adopted by the WII.

The efficacy of the camera trapping method was very much in doubt for tiger reserves of Bihar as their forests were dense.

''I am not satisfied at all. I will do a review and go back to records,'' he said.

''The number of tiger in my state has come down to 10 today from 25 in 2001 as per the Census, a figure I have difficulty in agreeing with,'' he added.

Orissa's Chief Wildlife Warden S C Mohanty also expressed strong reservations about the tiger census figures at the conference itself when it was discussing the tiger conservation Plan after a presentation on the subject by National Tiger Conservation Authority Member Secretary Dr Rajesh Gopal.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Uttar Pradesh D N S Suman said that though the method deployed by the WII was scientfic, but he would like to say that the camera trapping method works only at a certain height, so there was a strong possibility of the cubs being missed.

The latest all India Tiger Estimation released here yesterday showed sharp decline in the number of tigers with the figure coming down to around 1500 from 3642 counted in 2001.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, however, said the figures of the 2001 and 2007 could not be compared as the two used diferent methods of estimation.

''The total country-level population of tiger was 1411, with a 17.43 per cent coefficient of variation. The lower limit is 1165 and the upper limit is 1657,'' the Census said.

The number of tiger counted in different states is as follows: Uttar Pradesh-109, Uttarakhand-178, Bihar-10, Andhra Pradesh-95, Chhattisgrah-26, Madhya Pradesh-300, Maharashtra-103, Orissa-45, Rajasthan-32, Karnataka-290, Kerala-46, Tamil Nadu-76, Assam-70, Arunachal Pradesh-14, Mizoram-6, West Bengal-10.

The census excludes counts from Sunderbans, where the process of estimation was still in progress, and from Indravati Tiger Resrves of Chhattisgrah and Palmau Tiger Resreve of Jharkhand where areas were inacessible due to the naxalite problem, he said.

UNI NAZ AKJ RAI1954

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