Andhra Pradesh

Tiger roar gets louder in State

A tigress and her cub captured in a camera trap at the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve.  

The tigers have come roaring back in Andhra Pradesh, according to the latest assessment done by the A.P. Forest Department.

There has been a consistent rise in the number of tigers at the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR), the largest such reserve in the country.

Speaking to The Hindu ahead of the Global Tiger Day (July 29), Rahul Pandey, Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife), said, “As many as 63 tiger images have been captured in camera traps during 2020-21, indicating the minimum number of tigers present in the vast reserve forest area.”

The first assessment done by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2019 after the State’s bifurcation had put the number of tigers in Andhra Pradesh at 48.

The NSTR is spread over 3,728 sq. km, covering Kurnool, Prakasam, Kadapa and Chittoor districts in Andhra Pradesh. Its unique geographical expanse includes the pristine Nallamala and Seshachalam hill ranges with a vast and continuous forest patch.

Conservation measures

Terming it as a heartening news, Mr. Pandey said the key measures undertaken towards tiger conservation included active surveillance by using sensor-based camera traps, 24 X 7 patrolling by the personnel, and engaging the local community.

The established protocols for monitoring tigers include foot patrols, vehicular patrols, night surveillance, grid surveys, camera traps in grids, collection of pugmark signs, monitoring for indirect evidences of tiger presence and tracking of trails where frequent movement or presence is observed.

“The camera trap is placed at every two sq. km-area. Around 1,200 cameras are used in the exercise that begins in October every year post monsoon and goes up to May. We get about 1,000 pictures of tigers, which are then assessed through statistical tool to ascertain the overall number,” said Mr. Pandey.

The entire landscape is divided into 550 grids. Each grid is surveyed for field signs of tiger presence. Camera trap is fixed in each grid to get a visual image of the tiger, or prey base. For 45 days duration, the camera trap images are collected and scientific assessment is done on day-to-day data received during the period. The stripe pattern is unique to each tiger, and each tiger is coded by specific ID.

Role for Chenchu tribe

The lifeline of the tiger conservation measures set up by the Forest Department is the involvement of the Chenchu tribe (a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group).

“We have about 400 people from the tribe associated with us. They are protection watchers and assist the forest staff in patrolling. They are an integral part of the conservation and anti-poaching measures,” said Mr. Pandey.

As part of the conservation measures, 67 base camps (semi-permanent structures) are set up across the NSTR. A group of five Chenchus man each of the base camps. They move throughout the treacherous terrains of the forests from dawn every day, digitally capture the pugmarks and other remnants left by the big cats, and monitor the camera traps.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 3:51:20 PM |

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