The ongoing national tiger census which began on the 21st of December, is running smoothly. The census was started with hopes to see an increase in the number of big cats and continuing the trend of the country's strides in tiger conservation over the years.
Areas of Chitwan were demarcated into three joint areas. The area up to the forest region of Nawalpur district was considered as Chitwan-Parsa Joint Area and it was mapped accordingly. The other two joint areas are Banke-Bardiya and Shuklaphanta Joint Area.
The three blocks into which the joint areas were further divided into are currently being surveyed. The area west of Tikauli Sauraha being the first block, the area from Sauraha to Churiyamai and Mardi area falls under the second block, and the third block being the area from Churiyamai to Bagmati. The three blocks have 287, 310 and 298 grids respectively.
Tiger counting is done by using a camera trap, Santo compass, range finder, GPS, record firm and other materials. Bed Kumar Dhakal, the Information Officer of the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), said, “We have placed a pair of automatic cameras within 2x2 km in places that have high movement of tigers.”
The cameras are kept in the first block for 15 days. After that, the same cameras are placed in the second and third blocks for 15 days respectively. “Then we bring the cameras back and look at the collected pictures of different areas, verify the tigers' breed by their stripe patterns and then do the analysis. It takes a lot of time to do so, probably one and a half months or two”, he adds.
Right now they have headed to Makwanpur, the second block, after finishing the count on the west of Chitwan. They have headed from the west to the second block from Banke and Bardiya too.
“According to the total area we have planned, we are close to completing 50% of our work. The total area included from Parsa to Chitwan, Banke, Bardiya to Suklaphanta, and also the areas that are related to the very place”, says Dahal.
“It will probably take one and a half months more to finish the count. We don’t know if there is an increase in the number of tigers in comparison to the last tiger census count at the moment”, he adds.