India and Bhutan join hands for tiger project - Manas in both countries to undertake big cat estimation through camera-trapping

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  • Published 25.10.10

Guwahati, Oct. 24: Forest officials of Manas National Park of both India and Bhutan will go ahead with tiger estimation in both countries simultaneously for the first time.

The idea behind the exercise, which will be done through camera-trapping, is to study the movement of tigers in contiguous areas.

“A meeting, the first of its kind, will be held at Manas National Park on November 10 where officials from Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan will be coming to discuss the modalities,” A. Swargiari, field director of the park, told The Telegraph.

At the meeting, the coordination part of the project, patrolling and protection will be discussed.

The estimated date of tiger estimation has been fixed as November 15.

Bivash Pandav from the World Wide Fund will coordinate the camera-trapping for Royal Manas in Bhutan.

Pandav had recently come to Manas in India to discuss the issue with Swargiari.

At Manas India, camera-trapping will be done at Bansbari, Bhuyanpara and Panbari.

“Camera-trapping will obviously help in getting pictures of other animals too,” Swargiari said.

Swargiari said the forest department of Bodoland Territorial Council had been informed of the exercise and they, too, have agreed to come to the meeting.

Experts from Aaranyak, a wildlife non-government organisation, have also agreed to help Manas India in camera-trapping.

Another issue to be discussed at the meeting is the creation of a Greater Manas, together with the existence of Royal Manas in Bhutan and Manas in India, which will provide an important guarantee for the integrity of the property and long-term conservation of the values for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The World Heritage Committee has already supported the idea of Greater Manas.

The Tiger Action Plan for Bhutan states that its tiger population was distributed through most parts of the country and the habitats connected with those in India.

Tigers move from Phibsoo wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan to Manas tiger reserve, Buxa tiger reserve and Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary in India.

The plan states that Bhutan’s contribution will be crucial to long-term survival of tigers in the region.

In fact, the continuous distribution in the Manas-Namdapha Tiger Conservation Unit forms the nucleus of one of the two largest tiger populations in South Asia.

Sources said the need for trans-boundary cooperation between protected area personnel is for two reasons — the movement of wildlife transcends international boundaries and it is, therefore, important that they are sufficiently protected when they cross into the other side of the border and also, much of the poaching occurs along borders as a consequence of its porosity and border areas are ready market for wildlife products.

While Manas India has an area of 500 square km, Royal Manas, Bhutan covers 1,057 square km.

River Manas connects the two parks and is integral to the topography.

Sources said though officials of both parks shared a good relationship and regularly met and shared resources, they needed to concretise it and shape it into a protocol.

Manas National Park contains 22 of Schedule I mammals and at least 33 of its animals are listed as threatened.

Royal Manas in Bhutan has 58 species of mammals.