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    Posted on 08 May 2012
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    WILDLIFE

    The single male and other rare animals

    A camera-trapping exercise in Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve yields a spectacular array of images of rare wildlife

    By Cara Tejpal


     


    • Sambar stag (Rusa unicolor)

    • Sambar herd (Rusa unicolor)

    • Barking Deer (Muntiacus vaginalis)

    • Red Goral (Naemorhedus baileyi)

    • Serow

    • Elephant (Elephas maximus)

    • Gaur (Bos gaurus)

    • Hog Badger (Arctonyx collaris)

    • Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha)

    • Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus)

    • Crested Porcupine (Hystrix indica)

    • Stump - tailed Macaque (Macaca arctoides)

    • Bat

    • Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)

    • Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus)

    • Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris)

    • Spotted Linsang ( Prionodon pardicolor)

    • Clouded Leopard

    • Asiatic Golden Cat (Pardofelis temminckii)

    • Binturong (Arctictis binturong)

    • Photo: Aaranyak and the Namdapha Tiger Reserve Authority

    Fifteen thousand photographs, 20 missing cameras, 22 stolen data cards, monitoring teams under gunfire and a triumphant climax. It may sound like the plot of an exceptionally thrilling espionage novel, but in reality it represents a spark of hope in an otherwise bleak conservation landscape. A camera-trapping exercise in Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve has yielded a spectacular array of images of rare wildlife, including a single, male tiger.

    Aaranyak, an organisation that works for the conservation of biodiversity in Northeast India (www.aaranyak.org), joined hands with the Namdapha Tiger Reserve Authority to conduct the two-month long project.

    All 60 employees of the forest department, along with a dozen Aaranyak field staff took forward the mission. The teams placed 90 state-of-the-art cameras with motion sensors across the 300 sq km of the park and spent the next eight weeks monitoring the cameras, collecting photographs, replacing batteries and managing the massive amount of data that was generated. The National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Panthera Foundation, USA supported this camera-trapping exercise.

    Covering an area of almost 2000 sq. km, Namdapha’s predominantly unexplored forest has its fair share of problems. Most worrying of which is the anthropogenic pressure on the park from tribal communities living within the core area of the reserve and a long-standing culture of hunting in the region. Researchers were shot at twice by poachers, endured one attack on them at their campsite, had cameras broken and memory cards stolen during the course of the survey. Namdapha also borders Myanmar, a country well known for its hand in wildlife crime. There is a lack of infrastructure and the skeletal staff of the forest department is hard-pressed to patrol the arduous terrain.

    “The Namdapha camera-trapping was a wonderful exercise and the joint team of Aaranyak and Namdapha Staff has accomplished a tough but rewarding job. However, to save the jewels living in the park, Namdapha management will have to be smarter and more diligent as the poachers today are better equipped and more numerous than before,” says Firoz Ahmed, an award winning wildlife biologist from Aaranyak and the person in charge of the camera-trapping exercise.

    The images published by Aaranyak are breathtaking, though a little grainy (camera traps, what do you expect?). Portly hog-badgers, shy binturongs, lithe spotted linsangs, the elusive Asiatic golden cat, clouded leopards and marbled cats are just a few of the animals that this slide show will bring to you. And perhaps in these images we can see the dawn of a new era of conservation in Namdapha. The pictures serve as a reminder of the precious biodiversity this country harbours.

    Cara Tejpal is a student of nature, wildlife conservationist and compulsive traveller based out of New Delhi
    [email protected]

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    Posted on 08 May 2012
 

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