India’s 2018 tiger census sets a Guinness record

According to one of the most detailed wildlife surveys ever conducted, the country’s tiger population rose by 6 per cent to roughly 3,000 animals

India’s 2018 tiger census sets a Guinness record

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11

India’s 2018 tiger census has set a new Guinness record. Announcing it, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted: “Under the leadership of PM @narendramodi, India fulfilled its resolve to double tiger numbers 4 years before the target through #SankalpSeSiddhi. @GWR @PMOIndia.”

According to one of the most detailed wildlife surveys ever conducted, the country’s tiger population rose by 6 per cent to roughly 3,000 animals.

Paired camera traps were placed at 26,760 different locations across 139 study sites, which generated approximately 35 million photos, including 76,523 tiger and 51,337 leopard photos.

An application was sent to the Guinness Book of World Records to see if this was the largest wildlife survey ever conducted anywhere in the world.

The citation at the Guinness World Record website reads: “The fourth iteration of the survey, conducted in 2018-19, was the most comprehensive to date, in terms of both resource and data amassed. Camera traps (outdoor photographic devices fitted with motion sensors that start recording when an animal passes by) were placed in 26,838 locations across 141 different sites and surveyed an effective area of 121,337 square kilometres (46,848 square miles). In total, the camera traps captured 34,858,623 photographs of wildlife (76,651 of which were tigers and 51,777 were leopards; the remainder were other native fauna). From these photographs, 2,461 individual tigers (excluding cubs) were identified using stripe-pattern-recognition software.”

“As well as unprecedented camera trap usage, the 2018 ‘Status of Tigers in India’ assessment also conducted extensive foot surveys that covered 522,996 km (324,975 mi) of trails and sampled 317,958 habitat plots for vegetation and prey dung. It’s estimated that the total area of forest studied was 381,200 km2 (147,181 sq mi) and cumulatively the collection and review of data equated to some 620,795 labour-days,” the citation further read.

Apart from setting a new world standard in counting large carnivores, the encouraging results validated India’s efforts in tiger conservation.

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