Stripe Code: Counting Tigers in Melghat

Melghat Tiger Reserve located in Amravati District of Maharashtra is included within the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) 28 that has been designated to include areas that require immediate surveys to assess tiger population status. Scientific and reliable monitoring of tiger population is very vital, as apart from generating population estimate, it also helps in objectively evaluating the success of management interventions and applying mid-course corrections if needed. WRCS has initiated a long-term effort for monitoring tiger and prey populations using scientific techniques in Melghat Tiger Reserve. Sipna Division has a total area of 839 km2. Of which 484 km2 is in the core zone and 355 km2 is in the buffer zone. It has considerable anthropogenic pressure because of presence of nearly 18 villages inside the division with large number of livestock and large agricultural area. Anthropogenic pressures include livestock grazing, firewood collection, fire, encroachment, and occasional cases of poaching. Camera trapping was carried out parts of Hatru and Jarida Rangesthat are in the buffer zone; and, entire Raipur Range and part of the Semadoh Range to the north of the Burhanpur highway, that were in the core zone. Camera trap sampling was carried out over a period of 64 days in two consecutive blocks from April 8 to June 10, 2012. The first block was completed in 34 days and the second block in 30 days.The total sampling effort was 1564 trap nights.37 photographs of 4 individual tigers at 11 different locations were obtained. The individuals photographed included one adult male, one adult female, one sub-adult male and one sub adult female. The subadult male and female tigers were photographed in the same locality, and were captured together in one photograph, and were probably siblings. The Forest Department staff reported that they were offspring of the adult female photographed above. Analysis of the data to estimate tiger density was carried out by spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) model in the SPACECAP software. The estimated density of tiger in Sipna Division is very low comparedto other source populations of the tiger.Other areas of Melghat such as Gugamal National Park have better tiger density of 6.7/100 sq.km The main cause of low tiger density is likely to be the high anthropogenic pressuredue to presence of many villages in the division. All communities in the villages depend on the forest resources both directly and indirectly. Local people own large number of livestock but are dependent on the forest for fodder. Other products from the forest include NTFP such as Mahua, Hirda and Awla. All this directly impacts the prey density and tiger density in Sipna Division.

Supported by : Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, USFWS

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