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Tiger count set to roar off the blocks

ON PROWL

Alipurduar: The forest department will conduct a tiger census in all forests across north Bengal later this week.

Senior foresters said on Tuesday that the count would be conducted by forest staff through indirect sighting - through collection of signage data like scat, pugmarks and scratch marks - followed by installation of trap cameras in different areas of Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR).

On January 19 and 20, teams of foresters will move into the core areas of BTR and other reserve forests, said an official.

"After this exercise, we will take task of fixing trap cameras extensively across BTR. Cameras will be installed in remote areas and on the higher reaches of the tiger reserve, which are close to the Bhutan border. There are certain undisturbed areas and for the first time, we are planning to put cameras in these locations. Also, the location of cameras will be changed after every 25 days," said N.S. Murali, Field Director, Buxa Tiger Reserve.

The plan is to extensively scan the entire BTR area with the cameras. In total, around 150 pairs of cameras would be used, he said.

The decision to put so many cameras in BTR is because for over a decade, not a single photo of tiger has been clicked in the reserve and also, no tiger sighting has been reported.

"On the other hand, tiger's photo has been frequently clicked in the Neora Valley National Park, which was anticipated to be a habitat of the big cat but is still not a tiger reserve. This is why, this time, during the tiger count, foresters in BTR are putting best efforts and drawing up plans to ensure that if there is any tiger in the reserve, its photo should be clicked," said a source.

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