Testing a camera-trap to ensure that it is working well.
In order to save tigers, it is important to know how their populations are faring. One of the main parameters which researchers usually measure to achieve this is abundance, or the number of individuals. However, it’s not an easy task! In tropical forests, tigers generally occur at low densities and are rarely sighted due to the thick undergrowth. Hence scientists normally use non-invasive techniques such as camera-traps, to count tigers. These camera-traps are set facing trails frequented by tigers, and take photos of any animal which passes by. As each individual tiger has different stripe patterns, we can actually count them to see how many there are! As these camera-traps also photograph anything that emits heat such as humans or other mammals that pass by, we can also gather information such as distribution, relative abundance, predator-prey relationships, and activity patterns for a whole range of other species.
WWF-Malaysia aims to carry out field assessments to gain scientific information on tigers and their prey in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. It is not just about establishing baseline data and trends of tiger populations, however. This information would then be used to provide science-based management recommendations within the landscape, so that a balance can be maintained between the needs of both humans and tigers.