Photo by daktre (Flickr) under license
It is interesting to note that there is excitement in the tiger world today, 17th April 2012, because camera traps have discovered Bengal tigers in Namdapha Tiger Reserve. It makes you think. You would have thought that with a name like that there would be tigers in the park and if not you’d think that the authorities would know about it.
Still, it is good news. But it seems to have happened by chance, which is another reason why I feel we have a right to gently chide the authorities in India. It would be nice if we – the concerned people in other parts of the world – could have more faith in the custodians of the Bengal tiger.
The good news does not end there. Not only have Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) been “discovered” but also some other rare wild cat species (some of the following cats are rare and some are less rare): Asian golden cat, marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) and leopard cat (the wild cat ancestor of the domestic purebred Bengal cat – Prionailurus bengalensis), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) and leopard (Panthera pardus). Eighty camera traps were used. Camera traps are becoming the most fashionable and accurate way of assessing wild life in these parks. Misassessments have occurred in the past. These are usually over estimations. Pug marks (footprints) and scats (feces) are also employed to assess population size and other information.
One nice thing about this survey is that it brings together several conservation agencies working in unison: Arunanchal Pradesh State Forest Department (APFD), local conservation NGO Aaranyak, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Arunanchal Pradesh State Forest Department (APFD). All I can say is, well done.
The Namdapha Tiger Reserve is the farthest north east of all the Bengal tiger reserves of India. It is relatively remote it seems to me, which may be the reason why the tiger has been spared. Perhaps there is less tourism at the Namdapha Tiger Reserve. The reserves most visited will be those nearest to airports and major cities such as Corbett NP and Ranthambore NP. Corbett NP is far north too but very well known but being overrun with tourism and developments because of that.
The Namdapha Tiger Reserve covers 200,00 hectares. Such a park is hard to protect against poachers. Now that is has been publicised that tigers inhabit the park poachers will be around. It is time to get wardens and rangers on the ground to protect them.
There has been a general lack of commitment I think it is fair to say in the vital task of protecting the Bengal tiger from extinction in the wild. The greater commitment is with poachers.