06 Apr

Press Release: Study Reveals First Ever Camera Trap Photos of a Tiger in Remote Northeast Indian Reserve


New York, NY – New data from a camera trap survey have revealed the first ever photos of a tiger (left), and images of more than 30 other mammal species from India’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve. While Namdapha is located on the remote and wild border with Myanmar, it has been impacted over the years by poaching for the illegal wildlife market and has even been declared an ‘empty forest,’ making these recent findings all the more surprising.

In early 2012, 80 camera traps (the majority provided by Panthera) were set up in a 300km2 reserve by teams of scientists from Aaranyak (an Assam-based wildlife conservation organization) supported by Panthera, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Arunanchal Pradesh State Forest Department and the Namdapha National Park Authority. These camera trapping efforts are being carried out through Panthera’s Tigers Forever program to collect baseline data on tigers and their prey, and to monitor tiger populations over time. One of six teams led by Panthera Technical Consultant, Sahil Nijhawan, placed camera traps that snapped four photos of a large, male tiger in the southern region of the reserve. They also found pugmarks (tiger footprints) of tigers, along with tiger scat (fecal matter).

The field director of the Namdapha Reserve, S.T. Jongsam, told The Telegraph, "The consistent efforts of the team finally paid off when tiger pugmarks were sighted. Scat samples, suspected to be of tiger origin, have been sent for analysis to the genetic laboratory of Aaranyak in Guwahati.” He also stated, “A permanent tiger protection force is essential in the park to tackle the [illegal] activities.”

Namdapha Tiger Reserve

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Panthera’s Tiger Program Director, Dr. Joe Smith, stated, “We’re thrilled that this latest study, which was a major collaborative effort, has confirmed that tigers are still present here and that the reserve has a good diversity of wildlife.” Smith added, “These photos are signs of hope for the tiger and can help garner the support required to protect this rich and unique place from the threats it faces.”

Setting a new record, camera traps also documented leopards, clouded leopards, golden cats, marbled cats, and leopard cats in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve. Wild elephants thought to have been extirpated from the park 15 years ago were also recorded, along with two potentially new frog species.

View a camera trap photo gallery and map of the Namdapha Tiger Reserve.

A camera trap photo of a clouded leopard.

Aaranyak’s Senior Wildlife Biologist, Dr. M. Firoz Ahmed, stated, “These findings are rare and exciting. We didn’t imagine that there could be such an incredible diversity of animals in this landscape. This camera trap survey has demonstrated that Namdapha has potential for the recovery of tigers as well as for other big cats and mammals.”

Learn more about Panthera's Tigers Forever program.

Learn more about Aaranyak.