New Delhi: In a bid to save the endangered
big cats, the Centre is introducing M-Stripes, a software
monitoring system to strengthen effectiveness of surveillance
and anti-poaching measures, in all the 39 tiger reserves
across the country.
"This is a tool developed to ensure that patrolling by
forest guard is more effective and the surveillance activity
by the field director is based on ground-level information on
intrusions like poaching in tiger areas," Environment Minister
Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.
He said the system would bring in transparency and
reliability as a "lot of information which is generated today
is doctored and unreliable -- people sitting in the office and
generating data claiming that the area has been surveyed."
The minister was referring to Sariska and Panna fiasco
when officials falsely reported sightings of tigers when in
reality there was no big cats left at the reserves in
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
"The software will bring in transparency as far as forest
guard or field manager is considered. We would have
reliability in our reporting system," Ramesh said.
Being on top of the eco-system pyramid, the conservation
of big cats is high on the government`s agenda which has taken
various steps for its protection in the recent years.
In India their number has dwindled to around 1,411 due
to poaching and shrinking tiger habitat.
YV Jhala, an expert with Wildlife Institute of India
(WII) said the user-friendly system would provide forecasting
of detrimental events (early warnings) like poaching or
habitat degradation and thus would provide scope for timely
He said each guard will carry the GPS equipment which
would give details on patrolling, wildlife crimes and
"The equipment will store, analysis, retrieve and report
at different levels including beat, range, division and state
besides national," Jhala said.
In fact, another WII expert Parag Nigam said, the
software would not only map patrol routes of forest guards but
also distribution of animal species including tiger presence,
human disturbance and would enable field managers to assist
intensity and spatial coverage of patrols in a GIS domain.
Raj Amin of Zoological Society of London which has
collaborated with NTCA and WII for implementation of the
software said such a system has already been successfully
introduced to check poaching of rhinoceros in Kenya and Nepal.
The system is proposed to be implemented within two
months initially at six tiger reserve -- Corbett in
Uttarakhand, Ranthambore in Rajasthan, Kanha in Madhya
Pradesh, Bhadra in Karnataka, Anamali in Tamil Nadu and
Nagarjunasagar Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh.
Encouraging trends from first phase of tiger census
The first phase of tiger
census covering around 3.5 lakh sq km of forest area,
including non-tiger reserve tracts at the beat level is over,
throwing up encouraging trends,
Ramesh said today.
"Encouraging" trends have emerged from the ongoing
tiger census, an extensive exercise that started last year
across the states, Ramesh told reporters.
"I am saying on the basis of the census trend which
are positive and based on information. In Kaziranga tiger
reserve, according to preliminary estimates, the tiger density
is estimated at 30 per hundred sq km, much higher than in the
Corbett where 24 tigers per hundred sq km has been reported,"
Similarly, good presence of tigers has been reported
from Buxa tiger reserve from North Bengal, Nagarjuna Sagar
tiger reserve, Indiravati tiger reserve which had earlier
been written off, the minister said.
"In Balmiki tiger reserve in Bihar too unexpectedly
good results are being reported," he said, adding, special
efforts were being taken to conduct census in the Sunderbans
in West Bengal which has sea-based eco-system.
However, the Minister was quick to add that
"encouraging" results did not indicate that the tiger counts
this time will be higher than the last census which had put
the number of tigers in the country at around 1,411.
"No doubt the trend is positive, but I can`t say that
this means increase in tiger number this census. But amidst
tiger crisis the positive trend is certainly very encouraging
to us," he added.
The tiger counting in the country`s 39 reserves will
be completed by November-end, Ramesh said.
The phase I data would be made available to the
Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in a
customized digital format for carrying out camera trap
sessions and distance sampling as part of the phase-III
process involving research team, he said.
Regarding areas prone to left-wing extremism, Ramesh
said that "scat collection would be done to ascertain the
minimum population size through DNA analysis."