Rare Fauna spotted at Buxa Tiger Reserve
Images of binturong, black panther and long-tailed boral have been captured by the cameras installed at the Buxa Tiger Reserve, providing evidence of the presence of these animals in the forest for the first time.
Images of clouded leopard, yellow-throated marten, crab-eating mongoose, wild dog and Himalayan black bear have also been captured by the cameras in the past few months, foresters said.
According to sources in the BTR, over the past two years, 70 pairs of camera-traps (cameras with infra-red vision that automatically releases the shutter when movement is detected) have been set up in remote parts of the forest.
Ujjwal Ghosh, the field director of the BTR, said: "The cameras have captured images of animals, like black panther, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, yellow throated martin, binturong, crab-eating mongoose, long-tail boral, large Indian civet, and great Indian dhol. Most photos were from the Bhutan foothills between Adma and Sankosh, a stretch of about 50km."
He added: "The region is far from biotic pressure and human interference. Although we have a low density of tigers in the BTR, it is a good sign that the number of secondary predators is increasing. Sometimes, leopards stray into the nearby tea gardens but other secondary predators, like the lesser cats, are hardly spotted outside, which indicates that there is sufficient prey in the forest."
The BTR has a total area of 760kmsq.
Ghosh said: "Animal sighting is poor in the forest because of dense vegetation and the absence of grassland."
He added: "The recent photographs are the first recorded evidence of binturong, black panther and long-tailed boral sighting in the BTR."
Photographs taken by the cameras are sent to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) every year.
Last year, the NTCA# had said the BTR was a suitable habitat for tigers. It had suggested intensifying anti-poaching measures and relocation of villages from the core area of the forest to reduce biotic pressure and increasing the prey base of tigers by extending grassland, the sources said.
Ghosh said according to the recommendations of the NTCA, four anti-poaching camps are being put in place in the core area. "Once ready, armed foresters would be on duty round-the-clock. We have 15 watch towers where we will post guards to look out for illegal activities. The NTCA plans to release tigers in the BTR and we have started developing grassland in an area of 200 hectares for that," he said. "We will start e-patrolling in the forest soon."
B.S. Bonal, the member-secretary of the NTCA, told The Telegraph over the phone from New Delhi: "The West Bengal government had sent us a proposal for the re-alignment of the core and buffer areas of the BTR and we have approved it. During a workshop in the BTR last year, we had advised the foresters in Bengal to adopt certain measures, like strengthening security. Once the arrangements are in place, we will take up programmes to release tigers in the BTR."