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The census: Fearless women on tiger trail

DC | Amit S. Upadhye | December 17, 2013, 09.12 am IST

Mysore: Roars of tigers and trumpeting of elephants did not deter these spirited women who were part of the tiger census that began on Monday.

As part of the exercise, they had to spend the night in the middle of the jungle on top of a rock near an Anti Poaching Camp. They did not mind lack of basic facilities, like proper food and toilets, at the camp, and said that they were willing to spend the next one week in the jungle.

The tiger census is being carried out across all tiger reserves and protected areas in the state. Shruti from Mumbai says she is thrilled to spend time amidst wild animals. “It’s a lifetime experience. I will not mind the bone-chilling cold in the forest and I may not even shut my eyes the entire night. I am ready for the grind.”

Fourteen women volunteers are staying at the anti-poaching camp at Gundre and N. Begur Ranges of Bandipur Reserve, while some others are staying at forest guesthouses.

H.C. Kantharaj, Director, Bandipur Tig­er Reserve, said close to 230 volunteers have enrolled for the census in Bandipur and the volunteers have been assigned 114 beats, covering 800-plus sq km of the reserve.

“The volunteers will walk 5 km each on the first three days of field work and count the carnivores and their signs, like pugmarks. The next three days, the team will note down the prey base and fodder type. The volunteers who have come to Bandipur are a mix of software professionals, wildlife enthusiasts and photographers,” he said.

Krishna Murthy from Mysore, who at 60 is the senior most volunteer at Bandipur, said he has been part of wildlife censuses since the early nineties. “I feel privileged to walk thro­ugh core areas of Band­ipur and report the presence of big cats.” Poornima, a volunteer, had the best take. “I feel safer inside a forest than on any street in Bangalore or New Delhi!” 

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