Rajasthan begins statewide animal census


New Delhi : Rajasthan began a statewide animal census Wednesday with a special focus on counting the dwindling tigers and disappearing vultures.

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“The comprehensive animal census will continue in 29 destinations including sanctuaries and national parks across the state,” said R. Malhotra, chief wildlife warden of the state.

“While counting would continue in Sariska and Ranthambore till May 18, it would come to an end in the other 27 places on May 10,” Malhotra told IANS over telephone.

He said the focus of the census would be primarily on tigers and vultures. Besides, fox, jungle cat, fishing cat, slop beer and Great Indian Bustard (bird) would also get special attention.

During this period, tourists will not be allowed to visit the reserves and parks till 10 a.m.

In the Sariska tiger reserve and Ranthambore national park, officials would use the waterhole monitoring technique till Friday. Under this technique, the ponds in the jungles are kept under surveillance.

From May 4-18, the census would be conducted with the help of pugmark tracking for tigers.

The state government has come under severe criticism from all political and non-political quarters on the dwindling tiger population in Sariska and Ranthambore.

A report in March 2005 by the Wildlife Institute of India confirmed that there were no tigers left in the Sariska reserve even though an official census conducted in 2004 had indicated that between 16 and 18 tigers lived there.

Enquiries revealed that poachers had killed all the tigers at Sariska. Even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had rebuffed the state government by remarking that there was a “complete failure in the control of poaching”.