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Big cat count from May 12

Ranchi, May 6: Between May 12 and 18, 300 men will take part in a massive exercise to determine the number of big cats in one of the oldest tiger reserves in the country.

Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR) will host the state-level survey to be carried out by the forest department after almost a decade. Though counting has been carried out by various agencies in the intervening years, the last time that the state undertook the exercise was in 2001-2002.

According to officials, besides counting tigers, the survey would also try to establish the status of other animals, their habitat situation, area accessibility and whether any species had become extinct.

“We have hired locals and additional staff on contract for this particular project,” said director of the tiger reserve S.E.H. Kazmi.

In the Tiger Report released by the Union ministry of forest and environment in March, Palamau was shown as home to 10 tigers. However, officials said the number could be higher as the report did not cover the entire area. The reserve, spread over 1,014sqkm, is divided into core and buffer areas, of 414sqkm and 600sqkm respectively.

In more than 70 per cent of the reserve area, there are pre-identified routes where animal sighting are known to be good. “We will use these routes as well as the untouched areas too for a holistic study,” said the director, adding that cameras will be used in places.

On May 9, a management and effectiveness evaluation report related to PTR would be released by Union minister of forest and environment Jairam Ramesh in New Delhi.

Based on the report, reserves will be categorised.

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