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An eye for the tigers

An eye for the tigers

VENITA GOMES

The Goa Forest Department recently captured the first image of a tiger at the Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park, Mollem. NT BUZZ details the prior research and study that went into detecting its presence

For many years, the Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park, Mollem has been a home to several species of flora and fauna like the Black Panther, barking deer, and many others. Recently, the sanctuary has proved to be a suitable home to the tiger of the Panthera tigris species. A photograph of the same was captured by the team consisting of forest guards Mahadev Gaonkar and Subhash Gaonkar, and  driver Chandrakant Gaonkar under the guidance of range forest officer Paresh Porob.

Explaining how they were able to track down the presence of the tiger, Porob says that it involved a lot of research, study, and collection of evidence. “For a very long time the team and staff members have been involved in collecting indirect evidence left by the big cats. The evidence can be raking, marks, dropping marks, footprints, scats and much more. Even the leftover food or carcass of some animal helps you in understanding the age, sex, height, and much more about the animal,” says Porob.

He further says that sighting a tiger in the Western Ghats is not easy. “If you’ve been through the forest it is thick and you cannot even see what is at a distance of 5 metres. However, movement there is not easy. Therefore, we are trained in such a way that we are able to identify the evidence.”

Once the team was able to gather a lot of evidence in a particular area they installed the cameras and left them over two days and were finally able to capture the image. “We don’t put cameras everywhere, but in places where there is strong evidence we put it there and leave it for two days,” says Porob.

Ealier, Paresh along with his team had captured images of tigers on four different occasions at the Mhadei Sanctuary. This was his fifth sighting and the first one in Mollem. “We are wildlife managers trained to identify tigers as well as big cats. It is a science we have studied.When we know that there is a tiger in the area we have to become more protective,” he states.

 He further says that though Mollem has proved to be a suitable habitat, it needs to be protected. “The presence of the tiger clearly states that it is a well maintained area. If the habitat were destroyed the tiger would have left,” he remarks.

Porob says that the Western Ghats have a good network of protected sites which is an advantage to the tiger. “Tigers are endangered all over India. We are lucky that Goa has a good network of protected areas which are interconnected with Karnataka and Maharashtra. Mhadei, Bhagwan Mahaveer, Netravali, Cotigao are all connected. These are further connected to the Kali Tiger Reserve which allows free movement of the wildlife.”

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