by Dr Anshul Chandel & Dr. Shivanand Kanshi
The day started with a hot cup of tea and an early morning activity for collection of data for distance sampling on a line transect at 6:00 am. The activity was carried out under the guidance of Dr. Parag Nigam and Dr. Bilal Habib. The whole batch was divided into groups of five members each and there was a ride to the Sariska Tiger Reserve in an open roof Jypsy. Our Group members were Dr. Shivanand Kashi, Dr Rakesh Jojo, Dr Vijay Shankar Dubey, Dr. Ram Prawesh Ram and Dr. Anshul Chandel.
The line transect was of 2 km length. The Binoculars, Range finder, compass and a dedicated forest guard Mr. Dushyant Meena were with us to complete the activity. The area was an open forest with plain terrain. The transect bearing was 180֯ to North in the Sadar beat in Sariska Range. We successfully completed the line transect with 9 sightings (13 animals; including 5 Cheetal, 1 Nilgai, 4 Hare and 3 Peafowl).
We also encountered pug marks and faeces of many animals (hyena, rabbit, Cheetal and domestic buffalo) and birds (Pea fowl). An unsuccessful but enjoyable attempt was also made to sight a tiger with Dr.Bilal Habib and Mr. Gokul (Field Biologist).
After a healthy breakfast, the next session started at 10:30 am with the discussion on field line transect sampling and data collection for occupancy sampling and design considerations and application in disease studies by Dr. Bilal Habib in a lecture theatre at Sariska palace itself. It was indeed an exhaustive discussion till 1:00 pm with of course a much-needed tea break in between the session. The lunch was served after 1:00 pm and a break was there up to 4:00 pm to have rest and get prepared for the next session and field activity in the evening. So, the evening session again started with a lecture cum discussion on analytical aspects of occupancy survey by Dr. Bilal Habib at 4:00 pm. After the evening tea break, live demonstration and hands on training on handling and installation of two camera traps viz: Bushnell and Cuddeback Digital was there. Thereafter, we moved to Sariska Tiger Reserve to install the camera traps in groups for capturing images of carnivore species. Our group was of three members viz; Dr. Shivanand Kanshi, Dr. Anshul Chandel and Dr. Nisha Raichel. As it was late in the evening, the forest was all dark and a bit scary too. We already had done a sign survey of the forest day before yesterday and had encountered pug marks of many wild carnivores. So, we were little afraid and our eyes were all focused on bushes around. By the time we came back from the forest, it was already 8:00 pm. The day didn’t end here. There was a documentary movie on re-introduction of tigers from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan to Sariska Tiger Reserve waiting for us. The movie covered all the aspects and challenges involved in the re-introduction process. So, it was overall a long and hectic day with lots of learning. The day ended with a hope of sighting the tiger in the coming days in Sariska Tiger Reserve………………………We were able to sight a tigress the next morning (01.04.22) with a beautiful sunrise.