In Arunachal Pradesh, first photo evidence of India’s only snow tigers bring cheers

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New Delhi | Published: December 2, 2018 6:13:12 PM

Interestingly, where the Tigers have found, the area is not a designated tiger reserve. However, more tigers are found here than in other designated tiger reserves in Arunachal Pradesh such as Pakke, Namdapha, and Kamlang.

Team went through three years of trekking to the remotest reaches of the Mishmi Hills and set up of 108 camera traps. (Photo Courtesy: GV Gopi and Aisho Sharma Adhikarimayum | Wildlife Institute of India)

Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang Valley has witnessed a significant event that brings cheers to wildlife enthusiasts. A research team after conducting a survey has brought out the first photo evidence of India’s only snow tigers. Interestingly, the findings show that what often believed to occupy only lower altitudes, studies of tigers occupying higher reaches are not very common. According to an Indian Express report, the study has revealed the first photographic evidence of tigers in the snow, after Russia’s Amur tigers.

Interestingly, where the Tigers have found, the area is not a designated tiger reserve. However, more tigers are found here than in other designated tiger reserves in Arunachal Pradesh such as Pakke, Namdapha, and Kamlang.

In December 2012, the villagers of the Idu Mishmi tribe of Dibang Valley district of the state spotted three tiger cubs somewhere in the Dibang Valley district, they immediately reported it to the forest department and the scientific community got involved with GV Gopi and Aisho Sharma Adhikarimayu, who carried the task, Indian Express reported.

The Mishmi cubs were later studied in the lab and were soon moved to Itanagar zoo, 900 kms from where they were captured in 2012. Itanagar is the state capital city.

A preliminary survey was carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in collaboration with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2014 and it threw up concrete evidence that tigers did reside in the higher and in January 2014 survey camera trap captured a partial image of the tiger. The NTCA sanctioned another survey in 2015, again under Gopi and Adhikarimayum — long term and higher up.

According to an Indian Express report, the team went through three years of trekking to the remotest reaches of the Mishmi Hills and set up of 108 camera traps. The survey results have been published in the current issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa, brings out 42 images of 11 individual tigers including two cubs were recorded.

In the highest altitudes of 3,246m and 3,630m, two male tigers were captured at. The elevation of 3,630m is the highest photographic evidence of tiger presence in the Indian part of the Eastern Himalayas.

The surveyors are certain that there are tigers even further up the Mishmi Hills as they carried out the survey only in 330 square km out of the Dibang sanctuary’s 4,000 sq km area and kept it limited to the river valleys. According to the team, If they had gone further up, they would have definitely found more.

The Idu Mishmi tribe itself — the 12,000-strong sub-tribe of the ethnic Mishmis of Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh — are known to have deep respect for tigers. Connection with the nature of the tribe can be understood by the fact that for the Idu Mishmis, the tiger is like their brother.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh is also the only state that is believed to have all the four major varieties of big cats in its jungles – Tiger, Leopard, Clouded leopard and Snow leopard and home to the lesser known feline species like the Golden cat and Marbled cat.

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