On September 12, The Indian Express shared the findings of its investigation with the three lead authors of the all-India tiger estimation reports Y V Jhala and Qamar Qureshi of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Rajesh Gopal of the Global Tiger Forum (GTF); and with Anup Kumar Nayak, chief of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), seeking their comments on the discrepancies found.
Six days later, on September 18, the WII uploaded a modified photo album on its website with a corrigendum. It read: “The original 2014 tiger photo album had a few errors that were due to typos and pasting of the same photos in multiple places. These errors had crept in during copy-editing by the printer and have now been rectified in the uploaded corrigendum album for all camera trap photos obtained by the forest department of states and WII.”
The modified album has brought down the number of total photos from 1,696 to 1,686 and reduced the number of unique tigers claimed from 1,635 to 1,540 — but that’s still 126 more than a maximum of 1,414 individuals found in the data.
Of the 282 photos found unfit by The Indian Express, the modified album has dropped at least five (3 duplicate and 2 unidentifiable) and changed at least 19 (18 duplicate and 1 cub). Of these 18 “new,” photos, two are still duplicates and another two are now cubs.
In a written response to The Indian Express, Jhala said: “It is not possible to add all sites (numbers given in the annexures) to come up with total unique tigers because there are common tigers between sites and adding up individual sites will lead to double counting of common tigers. Only a subset of the 1,686 tigers photographed/scat identified were used…to obtain the National Estimate of 2,226. For population estimation, tigers above the mid-shoulder height of mothers were included in the analysis, while photographs of all tigers are included in the photo album. since this information is useful for solving poaching cases… Though there are some typographical errors and pasting errors in the album, considering the magnitude of the data and scale of the surveys, these were small and inconsequential to the population assessment of 2014.”
Jhala did not specify how many of the 1,686 photos were used for statistical analysis and the rationale for annexing only 1,686 photos out of “30,922 usable photo-captures of tigers.”
On inconsistent numbers offered in three reports, Jhala said: “Please do not refer to this 24-page (first) summary report since there were typographical errors which were corrected in the Final report.” He did not comment on the inconsistent claims in the final report.
On the inconsistencies in the DNA analyses data, he claimed some samples were analysed after the summary report was published. “We identified 158 unique individuals (not all were used for population estimation). The table used for depicting the minimum numbers is only a sub-sample of these 158 individuals,” he said, without specifying the rationale for selecting this apparently random subset.
On discrepancies in figures for Bihar and Rajasthan, Jhala said: “The correct number of tigers photo-captured in Valmiki is 21, On page 159 the number of 23 is a typographical error. The correct figure for Rajasthan is 48 adult tigers that were photo-captured in Ranthambhore, Sariska, Keladevi and Ramgarh, plus 15 cubs. The range on the state’s tiger numbers 39-51 refers to the statistical standard error range.”