Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) has recorded a surge in the population of big cats the first time after coming into existence in 1992.
According to the final tally of camera trap census conducted by the VTR management in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-India, there are 22 tigers present in the 899sqkm reserve.
This number is more than double the population of big cats estimated in the reserve during the 2010 tiger census, the results of which were made public in 2011. Following this report, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) introduced a system which made it mandatory for all tiger reserves across the country to conduct annual census in addition to the one conducted every four years under the aegis of NTCA.
“We completed the camera trap data compilation work around a week back and based on that it has emerged that there are 22 tigers in the reserve,” VTR director Santosh Tiwari told The Telegraph over phone today and added that the data would soon be sent to the NTCA.
According to the existing norms, NTCA would send the state data to Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, which would vet the figures. The final number of tigers would be released thereafter.
As VTR shares boundaries with the Chitwan reserve of Nepal, the WII, which has the detailed report of Chitwan tigers with it, would match the VTR pictures with those of Chitwan to rule out duplication while counting the tigers.
“Camera trap is used for 30 to 45 days and based on the time of stay of a tiger in a particular reserve, the experts decide in which reserve a tiger should be counted. This is decided on the basis of maximum time a tiger spends in a reserve,” a source at WII said.
VTR had started the tiger census work in February this year and 210 camera traps were used across the reserve for collecting data till June.
Attributing the improvement in the number of tigers to improved field management and intensive patrolling, Tiwari said: “Involvement of local youths for patrolling has paid rich dividends, as they are aware of the details of the forest.”
Improved field management has led to improvement in the condition of grasslands, spread over 450 hectares, which has led to increase in number of herbivores which work as prey base for the tigers. Intensive patrolling has put effective check of movement of unwanted elements in the forest, which is considered to be a big disturbance for the wild animals.