In a first, wildlife officials used mobile application M-STrIPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) to estimate the big cat population, a WII scientist said on Monday soon after the release of the All India Tiger Estimate report.
Y V Jhala, scientist, Tiger Cell at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution of the Environment Ministry, who also contributed to the report, said M-STrIPES made it a lot easier for officials to collect and collate data digitally.
“This mobile app records the track a forest official walks and geotags the sightings of tigers and even other animals or signs which helps in the estimation,” Mr. Jhala said. It was easier this time but the data was huge,” he added.
As per the four-yearly report, India had 2,967 tigers in 2018, an increase from 2,226 in 2014.
According to the report, data was received from 491 forest divisions and it was processed using M-STrIPES software.
The M-STrIPES, the application used by forest guards, is GPS-enabled and helps to capture data relating to tiger sightings, deaths, wildlife crime and ecological observations while patrolling.
“Data entry errors, if any, were communicated back to the respective forest divisions for rectification. In case of carnivore sign survey data, the software was used to prepare input files for modelling occupancy of different species,” the report said.
Also, more than 80% of tigers photographs were captured through camera-trapping methodology this time, compared to 70% in 2014, the report said.
Nearly 27,000 camera traps were set up in 141 locations covering 1,21,337 sq km and they took nearly 3.48 crore photographs, about 80,000 being of tigers.
The other software used for tiger estimation was Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture (SECR) and Extract Compare, which helps differentiate between the stripes of tigers as each has a different pattern.
The report covers 18 tiger reign States with 50 tiger reserves along with areas beyond them where tigers can be found.
According to Mr. Jhala, one third of the tiger population of 2,967 was found beyond the reserves.
This is the fourth cycle of the tiger census. The first was conducted in 2006, second in 2010 and third in 2014. A team of over 44,000 officials worked on the census this time with 55 biologists, the WII scientist said.
The census does not include cubs and only adult tigers are counted.