Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu), Mar 8 : A Tiger census was conducted by Tamil Nadu Forest and Wild Animal Department officials with the help of 150 college students in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve recently.
The Tiger Reserve is situated in the Western Ghats. It is bound by forests in the west, north and south and by villages in the east.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 came into force in the State of Tamil Nadu in 1974. All the existing reserves were deemed as sanctuaries under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The entire Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserved Forest was notified as a sanctuary in 1976.
According to the available data, the tiger population in Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Forest, could range between 62 and 80.
According to a Senior Wildlife Officer, participatory and policing forestry, habitat improvement, consistent monitoring and ecological awareness programmes have helped in increasing the tiger population in the State.
A number of research programmes have been undertaken in the State, which has helped in monitoring the movement of animals and the systematic monitoring and perambulation by the department has contributed towards increasing the tiger population.
In the earlier census, the animal count was by sighting the number of pugmarks, which was not an accurate method. However, in the last census a more scientific method of camera trapping was adopted, which helped in arriving at the exact figure.
K. Sinker, Co-Coordinator, Tiger Monitoring Programmed, South India spoke about the methods adopted while conducting this census.
"In the earlier census the animal count was arrived at by the sightings of pugmarks, which was not an accurate method. However, in the last census, a more scientific method of camera trapping was adopted, which helped in arriving at the exact figure," said Sinker.
The number of tigers in India has plummeted to around 1,411, nearly half the previous estimate, as humans either kill them for their body parts or encroach on their habitat, according to a Government survey.
The estimate comes from the latest tiger census by the Government-run National Tiger Conservation Authority, and is based on a more complex counting method.
The previous census, carried out in 2001 and 2002, said there were 3,642 tigers. A century ago there were 40,000.