The Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) is mulling conducting a monthly census in a bid to collect information about its animal population after human encroachment and alleged illegal animal trading activities have contributed to the reserve’s dwindling numbers.
Though the protected reserve conducts an animal census annually according to guidelines set by the national tiger conservation authority (NTCA), PTR authorities have decided to monitor animals and check poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
PTR sources said the census will be conducted during the last week of every month. The team will conduct camera trap surveys for carnivores and elephants as well as waterhole surveys.
While interim PTR director Manoj Singh could not be reached for comments, a senior forest official said daily wage workers will be roped in, along with forest guards and trackers, for the survey. Around 150 camera traps are being set up inside core and buffer areas to track animal movement.
Home to tigers, leopards, elephant, Nilgai and Cheetal, the 1,000-sq km natural reserve recorded only one tiger in a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India last year.
Wildlife conservationists have raised suspicion of poaching and illegal wildlife trade within the premises.
Foresters said a monthly census may not be possible due to the prevailing manpower crunch. “Around 95% of the total sanctioned forest guard posts have been lying vacant for a decade now,” an official said.
Earlier in the month, PTR authorities conducted a three-day animal census using camera traps and scat analysis. The team conducted an elephant survey, carnivore tracking and monitoring of waterholes. “Survey data is being compiled. The animal count will be revealed soon,” said Mahaling, PTR DFO (buffer),on Friday.