Pre-monsoon census in STR set to begin today

The Tamil Nadu Forest department will kick-start the annual pre-monsoon census in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) on Friday. To ensure transparency, foresters will rope in volunteers and college students to perambulate the areas once controlled by the dreaded forest brigand Veerappan, sources said.
Pre-monsoon census in STR set to begin today
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The eight-day long wildlife census will begin with a training session, and all the ranges coming under STR will be covered. Transacts have already been finalised and the data will be compiled to enhance baseline data, Sathyamangalam District Forest Officer (DFO) Arunlal told DT Next.

The wildlife monitoring exercise will be through an Android-based mobile application and the conservative style of direct sighting will be documented. So far, 100 participants have enrolled for the census and the data compilation will be monitored by field officials and biologists, the DFO said. Waterholes will be given additional importance and the intelligence gained through the previous camera trap data will be used to enhance the census exercise, the official said. The data obtained through the pre-monsoon survey and then the post-monsoon survey held during December will be compiled and sent to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for further scientific findings of the number of tigers, leopards, and elephants found in STR, the DFO added.

According to sources, this is a pre-measure census taken up ahead of the integrated census done by NTCA. The pre-monsoon survey is usually carried out between June and July, while the post-monsoon survey will be held in December– January, when top scientists will be roped in. The census will monitor tiger signs, co-predators, pug marks, movement of large herbivores, tree bark peelings and direct sightings of all protected wildlife animals.

Although the Monitoring System for Tigers - Intensive Protection and Ecological Status (M-STrIPES) app is used for the census, during the pre-monsoon surveys, the conventional method of direct sightings through transacts and compilation through data sheets are done. The earlier census model of using Plaster of Paris to document the footprints is no more in practice, sources said.

Sathyamangalam, which was once a dreaded area during the time of forest brigand Veerappan now enjoys increased surveillance of anti-poaching watchers covering seven ranges.

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