Image capturing to continue till March end in Namdapha park

Camera trapping method has been used for the first time in the ongoing tiger census in the Namdapha National Park in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

“This is the first time the camera trapping method has been used for tiger estimation in Namdapha. All past tiger census were carried out using pug mark and other methods,” park director S. J. Jongsam told The Hindu.

100 cameras installed

Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation, has installed the cameras and is footing the bills of its volunteers engaged in the work. Wildlife biologist Firoz Ahmed of Aaranyak said that about 100 cameras had been installed.

“The image capturing will continue till March end and after about 40 days of trapping, the cameras will be brought back for analysis and estimation,” said Mr. Ahmed, who is also a member of National Tiger Conservation Authority.

He said tigers, leopards and clouded leopards were found in Namdapha. Some claim to have also seen snow leopard in the reserve.

Several threats

Namdapha was declared a National Park and a tiger reserve in 1983. The park, spread over 1,985 sq.km, is facing tough conservation challenges due to lack of adequate manpower to deal with the tremendous hunting pressure and targeted poaching, timber felling and other conservation threats.

Only 15 forest guards and seven foresters are patrolling the park, most areas of which are inaccessible and cover areas bordering China and Myanmar. Namdapha's altitude varies from 500 ft. at Miao to 15,020 ft. at Daphabum.

According to the 2001-02 Census, the Reserve recorded the presence of 61 tigers. Park officials claim that an estimation done in 2011 using pug mark method showed the presence of eight tigers. Park authorities hoped the camera trapping method would reflect a correct estimate of tigers.

No road, electricity

The 157-km-long Miao-Vijaynagar road through the national park was motorable till 1976, but it has since fallen into disrepair.

Vijaynagar, on the fringes of the park, is completely at the mercy of nature. There are no roads and electricity for the over 6,000 people living in 13 recognised villages and one unrecognised village. The only alternative to air transport is a six-day trek of the thick jungles through Namdapha to reach Miao, the nearest town.

An attempt was made to rebuild the road, but the construction was hampered by frequent landslips and disruption in supplies of material and equipment.

The district authorities are now trying to build an alternative road to Vijaynagar via Nampong, which will be more than 200 km-long.

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