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December 31, 2009

Kashmir black bears fitted with satellite-tracking collars

     Srinagar: Black bears in Kashmir have been fitted with satellite-tracking collars for the first time to study their behaviour and help conserve the endangered species. This project is being run by the Wildlife Institute of India in Dachigam National Park. This is the first time in India that black bears have been fitted with satellite collars. Authorities have started this drive from Kashmir valley. Rashid Naqash, Wildlife Warden, Central Division, said that the main aim of this project is to study the behaviour of the bears. "Wildlife Institute of India is running a project here and satellite- collaring is one of its inbuilt components. The main aim of this project is to study ecology and the behaviour of wild bears scientifically," said Naqash. Once the bears are caught, their age, weight and sex are recorded and the tracking system is fitted before they are released back into the wild. A transmitter in the collar sends a signal to a satellite which relays the location of the animal to ground stations. A team of wildlife experts from Wildlife Institute of India has put collars on five black bears in collaboration with the Wildlife Department of Jammu and Kashmir. Samina Amin, a researcher said: "Through satellite collaring we came to know how much the animals travel, how it uses its area and if it leaves the area, then why it leaves the area, all this we want to observe through this." After fixing the satellite collars, experts track the movement on computers using the Google Earth software. Such collars can also help in preventing bear attacks in the region. Dachigam National Park is a fairly high-density area for black bears. The density is two animals per square kilometer.
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