Population of panthers, other carnivores, and herbivores to be ascertained

As the integrated census of tigers living in Kalakkad–Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) commenced on Tuesday, a group of volunteers scanning an area at Kalakkad division collected the pugmark of a big cat.

When the volunteers and students of Sarah Tucker College here were moving towards Sengaltheri beat in the Kalakkad division, they saw the pugmark of a full-grown tiger at Koovaarpatti near Muththalar area around 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday.

“The plaster of Paris impression of the pugmark was collected immediately to be sent for analysis,” said K. Sekar, Deputy Director, Kalakkad Division, KMTR.

In Kodamaadi beat in Mundanthurai Range, volunteers collected the scat of a tiger while a few others saw eight wild dogs on the road leading to Servalar dam.

The pugmark of a panther was also collected near Paatharmalai.

Four-stage approach

The census methodology is a four-stage approach, which encompasses participation of State Forest Department officials, scientists, researchers, non-governmental organisations and volunteers at appropriate stages.

The methodology involves advanced techniques of population estimation so as to minimise errors and to ensure precise measurements.

The spatial mapping and monitoring of tigers, co-predators, prey animals and their habitat will involve mapping of carnivore presence and relative abundance, prey presence and relative abundance and habitat quality and anthropogenic pressures at a high spatial resolution of 15-20 square kilometres.

Since each beat, covering 15-20 sq km, is allocated to a ‘beat guard’ for patrolling and protection, the boundaries of the beats are well recognised by the forest staff.

Mita Banerjee, Field Director, KMTR, entered the jungle at Manimuthar along with a team. Around 200 forest personnel and 60 trained volunteers are participating in the census.

The census will also ascertain the population of panthers, other carnivores, and herbivores such as Indian gaur and deer.

Compilation

The data collected during the census will be compiled on December 22 and 23.