THE National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is set to implement a new computerised tiger monitoring protocol in all tiger reserves of the country.
Called Monitoring System for Tiger, Intensive Patrolling and Ecological Status (MSTrIPES), the protocol is aimed at providing real-time status of not only the patrolling efforts of the Forest Department staff but also the ecological status of the forest, as the name suggests.
“A training programme for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka forest staff was conducted at Bandipur Tiger Reserve from August 29 to September 2. Training session for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra will be held at Kanha in November-December,” Inspector General of Forest (Central region), NTCA, Debrata Swain told The Indian Express.
Subsequent training for Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand will be held in Simplipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha in December-January.The protocol has been developed by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) under the leadership of senior scientist Y V Jhala as per NTCA guidelines.
“It comprises a GPS-guided programme, integrated with a mobile app. The patrolling staff would daily download the information collected at the master computer in the Range Forest Officer’s office,” said Swain.
The information would be about the condition of the forest being patrolled by the staff, water bodies, tigers and other animal sightings and signs of encroachment, man-animal conflict, illicit felling etc. “This will not only ensure that the staff is actually patrolling their designated areas but will also provide the ecological status of the forest on real-time basis. We will also have photographic evidence of all the data collected,” said Swain.
“This will take care of all the problems associated with the current system of registering some basic data on a piece of paper by the patrolling staff. This paper-based data often takes 15-30 days to be uploaded on the computers and thus hampers quick decision-making necessary in tiger monitoring,” said Swain.
MSTrIPES is to be implemented in 17 central Indian tiger reserves in the current financial year, according to Swain. “It will be implemented in both the core and buffer areas of the reserves,” he said.
The states may adopt the programme even for non-protected forests that have good wildlife presence, according to Swain. “The forest sandwich between Bor, Navegaon-Nagzira, Pench and Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserves and Umred-Karhandla Sanctuary has more than 50 tigers, the highest number for such areas anywhere in the country. Hence, the MSTrIPES-like programme will be helpful for such areas,” he said.
Fresh search for Jai
The Forest Department will undertake a massive manhunt for three days beginning Monday in the entire Vidarbha forest to look for the missing tiger, Jai. The entire forest department staff belonging to not only the wildlife division but also the Territorial division and Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) will fan out to the nooks and corners of Vidarbha’s forests to search for the 250-kg tiger, originally belonging to Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary straddling Nagpur and Bhandara districts. The radio-collared 6-year-old tiger has gone missing since April 18 after the collar malfunctioned.
Several wildlife enthusiasts and NGOs had voluntarily carried out a search for the tiger for over a month recently. But the tiger has remained untraceable.
Experts have also suggested that the search should also be done taking the possibility of Jai’s poaching or death due to any reason. “During the rainy season, it was very difficult to penetrate the inaccessible areas. With rains receding, we hope to do better and on a bigger scale and a larger area,” Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told The Indian Express.