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Mizoram to conduct tiger census

Silchar, Jan. 21: Mizoram’s forest and environment department will conduct a census of tigers at the Dampa tiger reserve, 127km from Aizawl, early next month.

The chief wildlife warden, L.R. Thanga, said the census would be an elaborate affair and take place after four years.

Thanga added that the last tiger census found only six tigers in the forest, which covers an area of 500 square km.

The chief wildlife warden, however, denied that a gang of poachers from Dampa had killed at least two wild cats among them.

He was confident that in the next census, the number of tigers would definitely spiral, as the forest and environment department had taken strong conservation measures.

Sources in the state forest department said the census would be based on field surveys instead of relying solely on the pug mark method.

It will use remote sensing, GSI, high-resolution spatial data based on sign surveys and also camera trapping.

Sources added that the body count would not only be limited to tigers alone, but it would also include the prey population of the tigers.

The Mizoram Remote Sensing Application and the Shillong-headquartered North East Space Application Centre conducted a survey on the reserve. It found that the area of the tiger habitat in Dampa was recently reduced to 57 square km in the wake of the “forcible and collective settlement” by encroachers.

Dampa is the largest sanctuary of the state, notified in 1985, and subsequently it was declared a tiger reserve in 1994. The wild animals found here are the tiger, leopard, gaur (Indian bison), wild dog, sambar, barking deer, sloth bear, hoolock gibbon, common langur and wild boar.

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