Nepal | July 05, 2020

Tiger, gharial census in final stage, says DNPWC

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, March 18

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation has started data analysis as part of the final phase of ongoing tiger census.

The data analysis is being undertaken on the basis of information collected using camera tapping method in five national parks in the country.

The census officially began from November 30 last year, by dividing the national parks into three major complexes — Chitwan-Parsa complex, Banke-Bardiya complex and Shukla-Jogbudha complex. The areas lies in the tropical zone between the Bagmati River in the east and the Mahakali River in the west.

Camera tapping is a method in which a pair of still and video infrared motion sensor cameras is placed into hundreds of smaller grids. These cameras then automatically take pictures and record a video for 10 seconds when it senses any kind of movement in front of the cameras. The cameras record the data of the grids for 16 days.

According to DNPWC ecologist Laxman Prasad Poudyal, data analysts collect the data captured by the camera and segregate the pictures and visuals with tigers and without tigers. Officials then work to identify particular kind of tiger on the basis of their strips which is believed to be identical like fingerprints in every tigers.

Finally the numbers of tigers are made public by following a conventional ‘mark and recapture’ technique which is believed to give 95 per cent accurate result. Ecologist Poudyal said the team is working to make public the exact numbers of tigers on International Tiger Day on July 29.

Nepal has been conducting tiger census every four years after the government signed 2010 Global Tiger Conference in Russia agreeing to double the number of tigers by 2022.

According to DNPWS officials, there were a total of 121 adult tigers in 2010 and their number increased to 198 in 2013.

Ecologist Poudyal said they had launched numerous projects to improve their habitat, maintain the number of animals that tigers depend on for food, protect them from poaching and maintain the ecosystem. Tigers are the top of the food chain. Conservation of tigers will also conserve ecosystems. The Chitwan National Park is also undertaking data analysis of ghariyal census after data collection in the Narayani and Rapti rivers, along with smaller streams that join the rivers.

According to Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, the Rapti River from Lothar to Dovan and the Narayani River from Devghat to Triveni were manually patrolled by ecologists to determine the numbers of crocodiles. These two rivers and other adjoining rivers are major habitat for fish-eating crocodiles which are unique in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.

According to DNPWC ecologist Laxman Prasad Poudyal, the rivers were divided into clusters to count the crocodiles. The Narayani River was divided into eight clusters, the Rapti River into three clusters, and the Budhi Rapti and Dhungre rivers one cluster each.

Poudyal said, “We formed a group of five comprising technicians and ecologists to count the crocodiles in each clusters. The technicians recorded the numbers of crocodiles they spotted and  photographed them in their designated clusters continuously for three days.”

As per the 2016 census, there were  166 ghariyals in Chitwan National Park and 32 in Bardiya National Park.

A version of this article appears in print on March 19, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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