A few months back I was reviewing a paper about tiger in north West Bengal. It is a very good account, now published in Journal of Threatened Taxa, April 2010 Issue. In my editorial note I have appreciated the effort by NTCA/WII to identify Tiger landscapes in the country in their report-2008 based on the new method of monitoring started in 2005. Well the identified landscapes appear good, promising and offer may be the ‘last’ opportunity for development for tigers. But field practices depend on many other things than the satellite images.
In the context of the ‘new method’ with which I have never been happy or comfortable when I think of Forest Guards who collect information on a wide range of parameters whose overall dimension or impacts are well borne in their mind (or are asked info about vegetation as per Champion and Seth Classification!) or the managers who are to manage large carnivores known from statistical deductions.
Our people want wildlife status in terms of some hard number, their composition, young-mother(female)-male land-tenure system, their spatial distribution and the trend. To partially satisfy that need a company has chosen to put hoardings depicting the tiger numbers left in the country. It has attracted the attention of many. That is good! But again, it is the number which is able to arouse one’s concern, not a piece of data as xx-numbers per yy-sq.km. area. Let’s get back to some better sense of data for management!
While the results of 2005-monitoring is yet to be accepted in Orissa, on Friday (30 April 2010) The Times of India carried a news that staff of Sanjay Gandhi National Park are back to the park with tiger tracer, tracing sheets etc. for taking stock of leopard population. That has become necessary to ascertain how many leopards are there in an area. The report on results of new method is silent about such information on leopard.