Endangered

Monitoring Tigers in the Twenty-First Century India-Part XI

Monitoring Tigers in the Twenty-First Century India-Part X


-Vinod Rishi


Here is the eleventh and last part of an article published by Shri Vinod Rishi in The Indian Forester. Vol.136:10. Wild Life Special.
Shri Vinod Rishi is IFS – retd. and a Former Additional Director General of Forests (Wildlife), Govt. of India; E-mail: vinodrishi@rediffemail.com

(Contd from last month)

Monitoring Tigers in the Twenty-First Century-Part XI


There has not been any reliable analysis to justify rejection of field methods for estimating the tiger populations. The application of statistical approaches is also not questionable, nor can its use be undervalued in wildlife conservation. But one cannot deny that many of the available models are primarily untried and un-validated research models. The problems with the hypothetical and un-validated research models are evident from the results of the holistic approach applied by the NTCA. Models for use by field officers are yet to be designed, and India does not have a dedicated wildlife management research cadre. Systems Analysis and Ecological Modeling can become a significant component of wildlife management research and its application in wildlife management in India, only if the results are empirically verifiable by the user at a short notice and found to be closer to reality.
The current status of tiger populations is extremely tenuous. Wild tiger populations are faced with the threat of decimation and dying out as geographically segregated genetic isolates. Breeding depressions caused by inbreeding and skewed sex ratios, and the time bound dying out of very small isolated populations will wipe the species out, even if total protection is given to such populations.

The reliability of pugmarks as an index for tiger count has been questioned and answered over the past two decades. The statistical estimation approaches have also been tried out. The refinement and development of the field methods has been a continuous activity over the past decades. Use of cluster analysis with computer software in West Bengal (Roy, Undated); refinement of the field data collection techniques, and monitoring of the tiger populations by mapping tiger habitat occupancy patterns have been tried out and validated in the field conditions (Rishi, 1984, 1997, 2005), tiger census method was also redefined (Singh, 1999). These works have not lost their value because of a paradigm shift by NTCA in monitoring tiger populations.

If we have to approach the application of statistical models with caution, so also we have to exercise discretion and caution in using field methods. Both are subject to human bias. There is science in the field methods, too. The problem lies in the lack of appreciation about when and where to use which approach. We still do not know the true status of tigers in India, nor do we know what methodology to follow in future for monitoring their populations. It is a historical reality that every proponent or supporter of a methodology patronizes a technique or an approach, and expresses greatest confidence in the favored approach. Till date, the firmness of the stands taken by opposite opinion groups regarding mathematical approaches and field methods has been a singular factor that has prevented them from coming together for strengthening the approach for tiger conservation in India. The blind promotion or rejection of any approach will have an effect on the tiger. Therefore, the right way(s) to monitor tiger populations and habitats will be the one(s) that ensure the tiger is benefited from our efforts.

The survival of tiger in India, unfortunately and alarmingly, is pitted in a race against time. We have just about 1,000 tigers in India. Every tiger needs to be watched: numbers cannot be treated as taboo! Reliable monitoring of tigers, their co-predators, prey populations, habitats and their protection are critical for evolving appropriate management strategies for their conservation. We have to change the way we are currently dealing with the remnant tiger populations. A fresh look at both the academic and field approaches is needed.
It is not the academic excellence but the field staff that will save the tiger. The need of the day is to enable the field level manpower with user-friendly methods and techniques that will upgrade their skills in protecting and monitoring wild populations for which they are responsible. There is no harm in trying to REINVENT OR REPAIR THE WHEEL IF THE EXISTING ONE DOES NOT WORK.

***
SUMMARY
    Tiger conservation crisis has been compounded by the inability to precisely estimate and monitor tiger populations in India. The paper presents a historical review of the past approaches and current anomalies, and suggests future possibilities for meaningful evaluation of the status of tiger populations using the best of both the Systems Analysis approaches as well as the user-friendly field methods.
Key words: Tiger population, Estimation and Monitoring, Sampling technique, Pugmark, Census Technique, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

References
Banks, D and D. Currey (Undated). The State of the Tiger: India’s Tiger Crisis. Environmental Investigation Agency. UK.
Chaudhuri, C.M. (1938). Tiger Census. Indian Forester. Dehradun. 64(10): 612-615.
Choudhury, S.R. (1970a). Let Us Count Our Tigers. Cheetal. Dehradun. 12(2): 41-51.
Choudhury, S.R. (1970b). The Tiger-Tracer. Cheetal. Dehradun. 13(1): 27-31.
Choudhury, S.R. (1971). With The Tiger-Tracer. Cheetal. Dehradun. 13(2): 19-25.
Choudhury, S.R. (1972a). Tiger Census in India – PART I. Cheetal. Dehradun 15(1): 68-77.
Choudhury, S.R. (1972b). Tiger Census in India – PART II : excerpts from the author’s log book of the census week in the Simlipal hills in Orrisa. Cheetal. Dehradun. 15(I): 78-83.
Choudhury, S.R. (1979a). Pragmatic Practice in Tiger-Tracer and Grass-Tracer. Proc. of Intl. Symp.on Tiger. New Delhi. pp 358-365.
Choudhury, S.R. (1979b). The Second All India Census Due in Summer 1979. Proc. of Intl Symp on Tiger. New Delhi. 300-304.
Day, M. (Undated). The Big Cat Cover-up. The Tiger Trust. UK.
Gee, E.P. (1964). The Wild Life of India. Harper Collins Publishers. Pp 175.
Goyal, S.P., K. Sankar, Q. Qureshi, Randeep Singh and Udayan Borthakur (2007). Comparison of tiger (Panthera tigris) population estimated using noninvasive techniques of pugmark, camera trap and DNA based analysis of hair and scat in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. Phase – I: A pilot study to standardize protocols for identifying free ranging individual tigers. Wildlife Institute of India. pp 118.
Imam, A. (1970). Tiger Populations of North East Indian Region. Cheetal Dehradun. 13(1): 58 – 60,
Jhala, Y.V., Qamar Qureshi and Rajesh Gopal (2005a). Monitoring tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat. Technical Publication of Project Tiger
Directorate, Govt. of India, New Delhi and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. pp 49.
Jhala, Y.V., Qureshi, Q. and R. Gopal (2005b). Methodology for Estimating and Monitoring Tiger, Prey and Habitat: Technical Note. The Indian Forester 131(10): 1393-1398.
Jhala, Y.V., Qamar Qureshi and Rajesh Gopal (2008). Status of Tigers, Co-predators & Prey in India 2008. National Tiger Conservation Authority, Govt. of India, New Delhi & Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. pp 164.
Karanth, K. U. (1987). Tigers in India: A Critical Review of Field Censuses. in Tigers of the World. :118-132.
Karanth, K.U. (1988). Analysis of predator-prey balance in Bandipur tiger reserve with reference to census reports. Jour. Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 85(1): 1-8.
Karanth, K.U. (1995). Estimating tiger (Panthera tigris) populations from Camera Trap data using capture/recapture models. Biological Conservation. 71:333-38.
Karanth, K.U. (1999). Counting tigers with confidence in Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in human-dominated landscapes. Eds: J. Seidensticker, S. Christie and P. Jackson. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 350-353.
Karanth K.U., and J.D. Nichols (2000). Ecological Status and Conservation of Tigers in India. Final Technical Report to the Division of International Conservation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington DC and Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore, India. pp 124.
Karanth, K Ullas., J. Nichols, P.K. Sen & V. Rishi (2002). Monitoring Tigers and Prey: Conservation Needs and Managerial Constraints. In Monitoring Tigers and Their Prey (Ed Karanth & Nichols). CWS. 1-8.
Karanth, K.U. (2003). Tiger ecology and conservation in the India Subcontinent. Jour. of Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 100: 169-189.
McDougal, C. (1999). You can tell some tigers by their tracks with confidence.  In Seidensticker, J., Christie, S. and Jackson, P. (Eds.) Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in human-dominated landscapes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 190-191.
 Mishra, J. (1970). Winter track census of Palamau National Park. Cheetal. Dehradun. 13(2)
 Mishra, J. (1971). Winter track census of Palamau National Park. Cheetal. Dehradun. 14(4)
 Mishra, J. (1972). Winter track census of Palamau National Park. Cheetal. Dehradun. 15(3)
 Mishra, J. (1973). Winter track census of Palamau National Park. Cheetal. Dehradun. 13(1).
Nicholson, J.C. (1934). A census in tigerland. Indian Forester. Dehradun. 60(9): 599 – 601.
Overton, W.S. (1971). Estimating the numbers of animals in wildlife populations. In E. H. Giles (ed.), Wildlife Management Techniques. The Wildlife Society. Washington DC. 633 pp.
Overton W.S. (1977). A strategy of model construction: 50-73. In B. Patten (ed.), Systems Analysis and Simulation in Ecology Vol III. Academic Press. NY. 607 pp.
Panwar, H.S. (1979a). A Note on Tiger Census Technique Based on Pugmark Tracings. Indian Forester. (Special Issue). Dehradun. 70-77.
Panwar, H.S. (1979b). Population dynamics and land tenure of tigers in Kanha national park. Indian Forester (Special Issue): 18-36.
Reed, K.L. (1995). Systems Thinking and Analysis in Wildlife Management. In The development of international principles and practices of wildlife research. (Eds)Stephan Berwick and V.B. Saharia. Oxford University Press. 67-80.
Rishi, V. (1984). A Report on 1983 Tiger Census in Buxa Tiger Reserve. FDBTR, Government of West Bengal. Unpublished.
Rishi, V. (1997). Monitoring Tiger Populations by Pad-Impression Pad Method. Indian Forester. 123(7): 583-600.
Rishi, V. (2005). Mitigating Man-Wildlife Conflict – Identifying Aberrant Predators: A Case Study of The Man-eater of Sonaripur. Indian Forester: 131(10). 1255-1266 pp.
Roy, S. (Undated). Pugmark Counting for Tiger and Leopard. Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal. pp8.
Saharia, V.B. (Undated). Models Approach in Wildlife Population Estimation. Lecture Notes. Directorate of Wildlife Research Education and Training & Wildlife Institute of India. pp 20.
Sankhala, K.S. (1969). The tiger in Rajasthan – A study of its habitat, distribution and status. Indian Forester. 95(11): 763-770.
Sankhala, K.S. (1978). Tiger: The Story of the Indian Tiger. Collins. London. 220 pp.
Sharma, S., V.B. Sawarkar and Y.V. Jhala (2001). Evaluation of Pugmark census technique. M.Sc. Thesis. Saurashtra University, Rajkot (Gujrat) and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India. pp 103.
Schaller, G.B. (1967). The Deer and the Tiger. University of Chicago Press. Chicago. U.S.A.
 Sharma, S., Y.V. Jhala and V.B. Sawarkar (2005). Identifying individual tigers from their pugmarks. J. Zoology.
Singh, L.A.K., S.S Gailot, V. Rishi, A.J.T. Johnsingh, R. Talwar, , U. Karanth, and P.K. Sen (1997). Recommendations for an Alternative Approach to the Estimation of Tiger and Prey Populations. Govt. of India.
Singh, L.A.K. (1999). Tracking tigers: Guidelines for Estimating Wild Tiger Populations Using the Pugmark Technique. WWF Tiger Conservation Program. New Delhi. India.
 Singh, V.B. (1969). The tiger in U.P. Cheetal. Dehradun. 12(1).
 Smith, J.L.D., Charles McDougal, Sean C. Ahearn, Anup Joshi and Kathy Conforti (1999). Metapopulation structure of tigers in Nepal. In Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in human-dominated landscapes. ed: John Seidensticker, Sarah Christie and Peter Jackson. Cambridge University Press. 189.
 Srivastva, B.P. (1979). Status of Tiger in India in Proc. of Intl. Symp. on Tiger. Project Tiger. New Delhi. 11-16.
 Sunquist, M.E. (1979). Radio Tracking and Its application to the study and conservation of tigers. Proc. of Intl. Symp. on Tiger. Project Tiger. New Delhi. 393-394.
Thapar, V. (2001). Saving wild tigers: 1900-2000. Permanent Black. New Delhi.


(Concluded)


Join Us    

Download IWC Android app     IWC Android app



Copyright © 2001 - 2019 Indian Wildlife Club. All Rights Reserved. | Terms of Use

Website developed and managed by Alok Kaushik