In a strong rebuttal to the claims of an Oxford University research study that tiger census technique that was adopted during latest Tiger census exercise in India was flawed, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) of India has outrightly rejected the finding of the research group. The NTCA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country and it holds tiger census every year and devises policies to end poaching of tigers.It is also the governing body for all tiger related work in the country.
Reacting sharply to Oxford University research study, the NTCA insists that the tiger population census was accurate, and challenged the wildlife experts’ study that is based on 2005 and 2011 data, ignoring latest methodologies employed by the tiger conservation authority, which it claims are currently the most efficient spatial models available. As per the collected data NTCA which had supervised the tiger census in January put the figure of 2,226 tigers or 30% increase in four-year period drew criticism from a group of Indian and foreign wildlife experts who said the figures have “no relevance to the 2014 tiger population and status estimation” and doubted the figures quoted by NTCA.The team which had doubted the number released by NTCA consisted of scientists from Indian Statistical Institute, Wildlife Conservation Society and Oxford University was presided over by tiger conservation expert Ullas Karanth who claimed that the ‘index-calibration’ procedure was flawed and it gave imprecise numbers.
NTCA has said that Index-calibration relies on measuring animal numbers in a relatively small region using reliable and intensive methods using infra-red camera trapping and then relating the measure to animal pug mark tracing for calibration. The calibrated-index is then used to extrapolate actual animal numbers over larger regions.