Big cats hit a low in Pakke sanctuary- Clouded leopard on camera in tiger reserve for first time
|A tigress at Pakke. Picture by North Bank Landscape-WWF India|
Guwahati, July 29: For tiger lovers in the Northeast who were on cloud nine after Kaziranga’s success, Pakke tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is a bit of dampener.
Pakke has recorded a density of only 1.9 tigers per 100 square km compared to Kaziranga’s tiger density of 32 per 100 square km, the highest in the world.
Three months ago in April, Kaziranga had recorded the estimated highest density, overtaking the previous highest recorded density of 19.6 tigers per 100 square km found at Corbett Tiger Reserve.
However, the good news at Pakke is that the density of tigers is up slightly from the 1.15 per 100 square km recorded in 2006. Besides, a clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) has been captured on camera for the first time in the reserve.
However, Jimmy Borah, senior project officer, Tiger Programme, North Bank Landscape, WWF-India, who carried out the camera trapping along with others, said, “Looking at the terrain and the habitat, the density of 1.9 tigers can be considered good enough”.
He said the density at Pakke was similar to other tropical semi-evergreen forests in Southeast Asia. The usual density of tigers varies from 3-12 tigers per 100 square km in the tiger reserves in the country.
The WWF-India carried out the tiger census in collaboration with Arunachal forest department. Automated cameras were used to capture the photographs of wild animals.
The effectively sampled area for camera trapping was 261.81 square km of the reserve’s total area of 862 square km. The camera trap was laid at 30 locations in both Sijusa and Tipi ranges. The census was carried out from February 4 to March 30 this year. “Large areas of the park have still not been covered as they are inaccessible,” an official of Pakke tiger reserve said.
On the camera trapping of the clouded leopard at the reserve, a WWF report stated, “This very beautiful and elusive cat is reported in the landscape from various places of Arunachal Pradesh but its status is not well documented. Change in land use, encroachment into forest areas and hunting of the animal for its pelt, are the main threats to the survival of the species. There is a need to design a long-term conservation plan before its population reaches a critical level.”
The Pakke tiger reserve lies in the foothills of eastern Himalayas in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is home to over 2,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 36 species of reptiles. It is one of the last remaining strongholds for many globally threatened species of flora and fauna.
Pakke (earlier Pakhui) was declared a reserve forest in 1962, a wildlife sanctuary in 2001 and a tiger reserve in 2002. The Centre had sanctioned Rs 210.35 lakh under Project Tiger in the 2009-10 fiscal to improve infrastructure in the reserve.