Oryx

Research Article

Tiger Census—How it was Done

Richard Waller

In April-May this year the Indian Forest Service held the first-ever tiger census. Hitherto all assessments of tiger numbers had been based on estimates from the 17 or 18 States which still hold tigers. The Indian Government and the Forest Service are to be highly commended for setting up this difficult operation, for the task of counting this largely nocturnal, forest-dwelling solitary animal over the vast area of India is a formidable one. To achieve reasonable accuracy there is no substitute for the man living in the tiger's own forest environment, who will have acquired over the years a knowledge of tiger movements in his area (perhaps 10 to 20 square miles) and can distinguish one tiger from another, partly by sighting but more often by the pattern of the pug mark. This pointed to the Indian Forest Service as the men to do the job, and moreover the work could be done in the normal course of duty.

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