625 volunteers will take part in the operation in Bandipur and Nagarahole

The authorities of the Bandipur and Nagarahole tiger reserves are all set for the tiger census, which will commence on Wednesday.

Enumerators/volunteers will undergo training on Monday and Tuesday.

The tiger census is being conducted after a gap of four years. The last census pegged the number of tigers in Bandipur at 100, according to Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, H.C. Kantharaj.

Bandipur and Nagarahole, spread over a total area of 1,500 sq km, are considered to be one of the largest tiger habitats in India.

Mr. Kantharaj told The Hindu that 230 volunteers had been selected for the six-day census.

After the training, the volunteers would be sent to their respective camps for the census in around 100 beats. Two volunteers will be accompanied by a forest watcher/guard in each beat.

The tigers would be studied on the first three days and herbivores and vegetation on the remaining three days, he explained.

Two methods

He said the tiger count would be done using two methods: direct and indirect. The direct method was tiger sighting, while pugmarks, scat and claw marks on trees would be studied under the indirect method.

The herbivores and vegetation would be studied to assess the availability of food and fodder for the animals.

Mr. Kantharaj said that more than 1,000 people had come forward to be part of the census in Bandipur. Around 360 were shortlisted and finally 230 people were selected.

The department had laid down several conditions for the volunteers such as participation on all eight days (including training).

The volunteers would stay in anti-poaching camps during the census. Bandipur had around 46 such camps. Food would be provided by the department and each person had been charged Rs. 500, including an entry fee of Rs. 200, he added. Mr. Kantharaj said the results under the direct method would be known in a week, but the results under the indirect method would take some time as the data had to be analysed at the Wildlife Research Institute of India, Dehradun.

He said the census would also be conducted in forest areas where three persons were recently killed in tiger attacks.

“Now that the tiger had been captured by us, there is no need to worry,” he said.

In Nagarahole

In Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, around 395 volunteers will be part of the census in around 65 beats.

Speaking to The Hindu, Director of the reserve R. Gokul said that all those who had volunteered for the census had been accommodated. The sign survey for tigers would be conducted in three different routes on three different days. Training would be provided in the respective ranges by the Range Forest Officers.

However, the census in Balle–Moorkal camp would be conducted by Forest personnel and as a precautionary measure, no volunteers would be allowed. A tiger had recently mauled a forest watcher in the camp.

Mr. Gokul said the survey there would be done with the assistance of elephants.

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