New Delhi: Big cats housed in various sanctuaries across the country will soon have their own `identity cards` specifying their profile, a step that will enable authorities keep track of their movement and help in tiger conservation.
"We have issued an advisory to all the 17-tiger range states to keep an ID card specifying the details of each tiger in their sanctuaries," Rajesh Gopal, member secretary National
Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), said.
The identity card will be have a photograph of the tiger and its skin print, a unique characteristic of each predator, kill data and camera trap as well radio collar records with regular updatate of its behaviour.
"Maintaining an ID of each tiger will help the officials particularly forest guards keep a track on the predator in their jurisdiction. The idea is to strengthen tiger conservation at the ground level," Gopal explained.
The NTCA`s proposal was given the go ahead by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh at a recent meeting of the NTCA after the members expressed concerned that as many as
56 tigers have died so far this year, of which 14 were due to poaching.
Maintaining ID card or file will, however, will not be a easy thing as dispersing animals have the potential to move far from their natal areas.
"The card will also help beat level officials not only track the movement of the tigers in his jurisdiction but also behaviour. On a larger scale, the step will help understand
tiger occupancy, dispersal and other aspects of the tiger`s ecology," Gopal said.
"Also it will generate interest about the tigers among those officials who rarely care for the wildlife," he said, noting that apathy is one of the key reasons for the dwindling
big cat population.
Madhya Pradesh has already taken an initiative to maintain the ID of the predators and the system will soon be adopted in all 37 reserves in the country as a part of the
Central government`s policy.
There are only around 1,400 tigers left in the country according to a census conducted last year by the Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The tigers are facing
intense anthropogenic pressure due to habitat degradation, poaching and man-animal conflicts.