The day started at 7 am, with a distance sampling field exercise. We were divided into five groups to conduct a foot-based line transect, a methodology applied to estimate animal density, using a set of equipment which was new for many of us – a compass, a range finder, a GPS and binoculars. It was a lovely way to start the day, walking through the forest for three hours, searching for animals and not knowing what we would find!
The field exercise was followed by a couple of lectures about the basic principles of camera-trapping and how it can be used to estimate population density, as well as other fascinating applications, such as animal behaviour, activity patterns, community structure and ecology.
After the lunch break, we did another distance sampling survey, this time vehicle-based. We were able to cover a much larger area and encountered animals of many different species, including peafowl, wild pig, spotted deer, sambar, blue bull, langur, domestic cattle and a mongoose!
On our way back to the hotel, we found some of our colleagues trying to spot a radio-collared tigress that had recently been seen. It was a very exciting moment, as we quietly tried to interpret the signs of the forest for the presence of the tigress – a group of wild boars running away, alarm calls from deer, possibly a tiger vocalisation… In the meantime, a member of the Sariska team joined us with telemetry equipment. Unfortunately, even with the help of radio-tracking, we were not able to see the tigress, but it certainly increased our hopes for another brilliant and interesting day tomorrow!