Ooty: Dr B. Ramakrishnan, assistant professor of Zoology and Wildlife Biology at the Government Arts College here, who was a coordinator of the synchronized tiger census in 2018, said that this time, the tiger census was held in three phases to ensure accuracy.
During the 2018 census, recording of primary field data digitally through mobile phone applications like M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for tigers - intensive protection and ecological status), that uses GPS to geotag photo-evidence, and survey information made this exercise more accurate, with smaller margins of human error. Further, it involved the development of innovative technology like automated segregation of camera trap photographs of species, using artificial intelligence and neural network models, and software that fingerprints tigers from their stripe patterns to count the number of individual tigers, he noted.
The phase one count included carnivore sign encounters and tiger preyabundance collection exercise. The phase two method included remotely-sensed spatial and attribute covariates. The phase three count camera trap was done to determine the abundance/density estimation of carnivores.
He said camera traps were systematically distributed within the sampling area by the grid method, and deploying at least one pair of cameras within each grid.
In the 2018 tiger count, best available technological gadgets and methods were used for accuracy.
The data collected in various transect zones in various tiger reserves and other forests were analysed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the final figures were released now by the NTCA, Dr Ramakrishnan added.
On the overall tiger status in Tamil Nadu he said that it is estimated to be around 264-270 during this census. While tiger population is estimated to be around 140-150 in Nilgiris district, including the MTR, it is around 60 to 70 in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (Erode), around 25 in Aanaimalai Tiger Reserve (Coimbatore) and around 15 in the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (Tirunelveli) he added.
The good landscape in the Nilgiris, where the MTR alone accounts for nearly 666 sq. km area of jungles, has a good tiger population. The density of tiger is more in the MTR limits as every 6 sq.km area in the MTR has a tiger in it, he added....