Feb. 13 date for tiger count

Alipurduar, Feb. 6: The census of tigers in Buxa for the current financial year will begin on February 13, more than two months behind schedule because of the delay in the release of funds by the state government.

The forest department said the census would for the first time cover leopards in Buxa Tiger Reserve and apart from scat collection, pug marks would also be taken into account to find out the number of the animals this time.

All these years, the number of the big cats had been calculated only on the basis of DNA test on the scat collected from the reserve.

The scat would be sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad for the DNA analysis and it was found that the number of tigers in Buxa was 19 last year.

R.P. Saini, the field director of Buxa, said the National Tiger Conservation Authority had released Rs 2 crore in August last year and the amount was to be spent in the reserve.

"Although the state government received the funds, there was a delay in transferring the money to us. We received the funds recently and the census will begin on February 13. People who would be deployed for the census would be trained at the Rajabhatkhawa Nature Interpretation Centre from February 6," said Saini.

The tiger count in Buxa generally starts in December and continues till the end of February.

Saini said as animal activists had questioned the claim of tiger presence in Buxa solely on the basis of the DNA test, more cameras would be put in place in the reserve to take the big cat's picture.

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