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KOLKATA: A team of experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is likely to come here this week to meet officials of the State's Forest Department and investigate the malfunctioning of radio-collars that were fastened on tigers in the Sunderbans, officials said on Monday.
“Although it has not yet been finalised, we are contemplating sending experts from the WII because of the problems they are encountering with the radio-collars in Sunderbans,” WII Director P.R. Sinha told TheHindu over telephone from Dehra Dun.
Radio-collaring of tigers in the Sunderbans has had limited success so far. In 2007, a tigress was radio-collared, but it stopped functioning in just over three months.
As part of the nationwide tiger census, a Rs.35-lakh project for radio-collaring and studying the behaviour of tigers was re-initiated. Of the two female tigers that were tagged, one collar fell off and another malfunctioned.
“As of now we are not receiving any data,” said Subrat Mukherjee, field director of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve (STR). “However, the problem of malfunctioning of collars is not limited to Sunderbans, we have had similar reports from other reserves as well, particularly from Panna,” Mr. Sinha said.
To monitor signals from radio-collars, the WII uses the French satellite Argos. Most often the problem arises because the collared animal enters a satellite-shadow area, which weakens the pulse of the signal it transmits and strains the battery of the collar, he says.
A satellite shadow area is a region on the earth from where the transmitting device is not able to send signals to the satellite. This may be caused either because the device cannot see the satellite because of the curvature of the earth or if there is a barrier because of high mountains, says D. P. Duari, Director (academics and research) of the Birla Planetarium.
On the other hand, the problem of radio-collars slipping off is most often encountered when the scientist fits the collar loosely on growing animals. Else there is danger of the tiger suffocating on the collar once it grows, Mr. Sinha said.
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