“Kaziranga is one of the highest density tiger habitats in the country and has a healthy breeding source population,” says a report released on Monday. It has over 100 tigers, the estimate based on the annual monitoring carried out in 2009, 2010 and 2011 using the camera trap method.

The report, “Tigers of the Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India, 2009-2011,” says 118 tigers were recorded in the reserve over the three year-period. The figure includes six tigers which died during the monitoring period.

The study was a joint initiative of the Assam Forest Department and biodiversity conservation group Aaranyak. In 2011, it was carried out in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India and WWF India.

Unique traits

Senior wildlife biologist of Aaranyak M. Firoz Ahmed, who led the exercise, told The Hindu that individual tigers were identified on the basis of differences in the stripe pattern on flanks, limbs, tail and forequarters.

Like human fingerprints, tigers have different stripe patterns.

The report, released by Assam Forest Minister Rakibul Hussain at a function held in the Kaziranga park, says the tiger population in the reserve was extrapolated at 106 (minimum 81 to maximum 131) by Jhala et al (2011) as published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Kaziranga, which was declared a tiger reserve in 2008, covers over 1,000 square kilometres. Their major prey there, according to the report, are hog deer, sambar, swamp deer, Asiatic wild buffalo and wild pigs.