From Our Correspondent
Guwahati: The evidence of the presence of tiger has been established in Namdapha using the modern census technique by Guwahati based bio-diversity conservation and research organisation, Aaranyak.
The study was carried out in collaboration with the Arunachal Forest Department under the Directorate of the Namdapha Tiger Reserve. This is the first time that a tiger has been captured in a camera trap since attempts was made as early as from 1996 by Bangalore based Wildlife Conservation Society. Another study carried out in 2006 by another Mysore based Nature Conservation Foundation did not acquire any tiger picture in the park who used camera trapping method.
Aaranyak was invited by the Namdapha Tiger Reserve Authority in January 2012 to conduct a camera trapping exercise using the standard protocol set by the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India.
This major exercise began on 3rd February and ended on 29th March 2012 covered about 300 sq km area of the western side of the park, part of the most suitable tiger inhabiting area, coring to Dr Firoz Ahmed, senior biologist of Aaranyak.
As many as four base camps were established at Happy Valley, Hornbill, Farmbase and Deban to place and monitor the 80 cameras that were placed in the park. Three jumbos were also pressed on service to port loads of supplies and resources for subsistence in the forest.
The team not only worked in harsh environmental condition, but also faced with resistance from the hunters in the park.
On two occasions the field teams were shot at by hunters from the bushes in deep woods. In one of the field team the Principal Chief Conservator of the Forests (Wildlife and Biodiversity) of Arunachal Pradesh, J L Singh was himself present when a group of poacher shot at the entourage. Mr. Singh was visiting the park on foot to monitor the camera trapping exercise from 10-14 March and the incident took place on 12 March at Bulbulia area. In another occasion, earlier on
March 2, a camera trapping team was assaulted, equipments and data robbed and camps were vandalized at Farm Base by a group of 12 armed people. On February 28, another four rounds were fired by suspected poachers at a team consisting of Protection Force of the Tiger Reserve and members of the Aaranyak.
Even though as many as 25 cameras were stolen by poachers and hunters, the team could manage to get photographs of an adult male tiger that was captured on 20th March 2012 in two cameras inside the park.
The achievement should be construed significant in view of popular apprehension that Namdapha has been made devoid of tigers by poachers. The National Tiger Conservation Authority of India financially supported Namdapha Tiger Reserve and Aaranyak’s Tiger Research and Conservation Initiative was supported by Panthera, USA.