Guwahati, Dec. 22: Two records — the spotting of melanistic golden cats and a Chinese pangolin during camera-trapping exercise — have brought cheer to the 862 square km Pakke tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
Six tigers comprising three males and three females were also spotted apart from leopard, clouded leopard, wild dog, Asiatic black bear and others.
The camera-trapping, which helped determine the minimum number of tigers in the sampled area within the reserve, was conducted from December 2012 to January 2013 in two ranges — Seijosa and Tipi — of the tiger reserve.
The exercise was conducted as part of the phase-IV monitoring of tiger and prey population under Project Tiger in collaboration with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Arunachal forest department and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - India . Fifty-seven locations were chosen for deployment of cameras.
The NTCA, in its report, said, “For the first time in Pakke tiger reserve. four melanistic golden cats (Pardofelis temminckii) were photo-captured during the camera-trap season and there was a first photographic record of the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) too.”
The report said besides tigers, other co-predators and prey species were also spotted during the survey, implying that despite the low-density area in terms of wildlife, there is a good assemblage of carnivores as well as herbivores in the tiger reserve.
“The reserve, which is considered one of the global bio-diversity hotspots, is rich in wildlife and if all the areas were surveyed properly, there could be more such first-time records,” Tana Tapi, divisional forest officer of Pakke tiger reserve, told The Telegraph.
The Pakke reserve is bounded by a contiguous forest of Nameri tiger reserve in the south, Kameng river in the north and west, and Pakke river in the east.
The reserve has a great diversity of mammalian faunas with at least 40 species recorded. It is also rich in avifauna with 294 species.
The NTCA said as Pakke tiger reserve is adjacent to Nameri tiger reserve in Assam, joint monitoring work needs to be done for this tiger landscape.
“This will help us understand the true dispersal and survival of individuals within the population, which is essentially the same but managed by different administrations. This will also help in planning management strategies and will have important conservation implications for tigers as well as other wildlife that exists in this landscape,” it said.
The NTCA has said monitoring of prey species for tigers and other large predators should be continued on an annual basis to understand whether prey populations are in the process of recovery, have stabilised or reached carrying capacity. Development activities, poaching and indiscriminate felling of tress leading to habitat loss are some of the prominent threats to Pakke tiger reserve, sources said.