India has taken a slew of measures, including setting up of a wildlife crime control bureau and a new method for accurate tiger census, for conservation of the endangered big cats and their habitats.
Outlining the steps taken to protect tigers, Inspector General (Wildlife) R B Lal told a meeting of an international wildlife watchdog that India is politically committed to address the issue of declining tiger population.
Addressing the 54th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, he said India had formed a National Wildlife Crime Prevention and Control Bureau to protect wildlife from poachers and strengthened its administrative set-up in the states.
The government had set up a Tiger Task Force last year in the wake of reports of the disappearance of wild cats from Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan.
The CITES meeting in Geneva between October 2 and 6 was called to deliberate on the recommendation by member states and to agree on parameters by tiger range states to combat wildlife trade.
If endorsed, China and India will have to show that sufficient action has been taken by April 2007, or risk suspension of trade in CITES listed species. According to the Interpol, the illegal trade in wildlife products is estimated to be around $12 billion.
Lal told the meeting that India has also introduced a new, more scientific method to conduct tiger census that also
makes an assessment of their prey base.
Apart from camera traps, which will help in identifying tigers on the basis of their stripes, which are like fingerprints, the traditional method of counting pugmarks has been made more systematic.
In the beat level mapping, a forest officer will cover a stretch of two to four km to check pugmarks on the ground
and paw marks on trees.
Apart from classifying the fauna and flora, a survey of all animals will be conducted. Tiger dung would also be
tested to identify each big cat. The new tiger census will be completed by the end of next year.