Paper tigers: India’s big cat surveys ‘over reporting numbers’


An Indian Bengal tiger looks on in a forest clearing in Kaziranga National Park, some 280km east of Guwahati in northeast India
An Indian Bengal tiger seems on in a forest clearing in Kaziranga Nationwide Park, some 280km east of Guwahati in northeast India

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Surveys of India’s tiger inhabitants which have cheered conservationists by reporting sharp rises in numbers could have exaggerated, an investigation claims.

The survey group could have double-counted scores of tigers by misinterpreting digital camera entice pictures, in line with an evaluation of the counting methodology.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, in July hailed an “historic achievement” after tiger numbers have been reported to have risen from 2,226 in a 2015 survey, to 2,967 this 12 months.

Officers mentioned they have been assured within the numbers as a result of greater than four-fifths of these counted had been photographed by 26,000 cameras arrange in recognized tiger habitats.

However an evaluation by specialists for the Delhi-based every day Indian Specific has now claimed the sooner 2015 survey had over-counted tigers by as a lot as 16 per cent.

Tiger numbers are nonetheless going up, the investigation concluded

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Mistakes together with double-counting, or together with unidentifiable cats, meant that 221 of the tiger photographs in 2015 ought to have been discarded, wildlife specialists informed the paper. The images for the newest survey haven’t been launched, however the outcomes forged doubt on the counting course of, the paper mentioned. If comparable errors have been made this 12 months, the survey might have over counted by a whole lot.

The investigation discovered India’s tiger inhabitants was “undoubtedly on the rebound thanks to better protection and monitoring over the last 15 years”. But it warned the evaluation “puts a question mark on the counting process”.

India promised within the 2010 St Petersburg Declaration to double its large cat inhabitants by 2022. As just lately as 2010, the variety of Indian tigers had plummeted to 1,706.

To create new secure habitats for the creatures, the federal government has designated 140 new protected areas since 2014. Neighborhood reserves – buffer zones between protected areas in order that tigers can migrate and reproduce – have additionally greater than doubled.

Indian authorities have taken a tougher line on poaching in recent times and people caught on digital camera are sentenced to seven years in jail.

The federal government has arrange funding to compensate villagers for re-settling in areas away from tigers, and launched stricter legal guidelines round tiger tourism.

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