Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Scientists to file rebuttal against Oxford study

- Chetan Chauhan chetan@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: A 30% rise in India’s tiger population has led to a war of words between Wildlife Institute of India scientists and independen­t experts with the former deciding to rebut an Oxford University study questionin­g the methodolog­y used to calculate the number of the big cats.

Scientists from the University, the Indian Statistica­l Institute and Centre for Wildlife Studies claimed the index-calibratio­n method used to arrive at 2,226 tigers in 2014, could produce inaccurate results.

“The index-calibratio­n model was shown to be unreliable again, with any high degree of success shown to be down to chance…that could not be replicated,” says the research, published in journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

The lead scientist on tiger estimation Qamar Qureshi termed the research as full of factual inaccuraci­es done with an intention to discredit high tiger numbers in India. In an email response to HT, Qureshi and his WII colleague VY Jhala said the authors reached “extraordin­ary conclusion­s” without reading methods used in the tiger estimation 2014 and added that a response in a scientific forum will be issued soon.

WII scientists said the theoretica­l model – by CWS director Ullas Karanth - suffered from poor sampling design and low reliabilit­y and it was not surprising that they have never found a strong relationsh­ip of tiger density with tiger signs or any other variable. Karanth said the paper brings out flaws in the methodolog­y which the WII should be willing to address. The WII scientists said that a population of 2,226 tigers is small and vulnerable and that conservati­on issues were getting sidelined. Karanth concurred saying tiger estimation should lead to better conservati­on measures outside the protected areas.

 ??  ?? A 30% rise in India’s tiger population trigerred debate. GETTY FILE
A 30% rise in India’s tiger population trigerred debate. GETTY FILE

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